Leprosy: Nobody touches them, but ‘he’ takes care of them

Late Baba Amte was an Indian social worker particularly known for his work for the rehabilitation and empowerment of poor people suffering from leprosy, which goes unreported. Similarly, in Kalaburagi (Gulbarga) , in Karnataka, Hanmanth Devnoor, a 44-year-old rickshaw driver takes care of the people with leprosy. With an aim to put a full stop to the pain of the needy, Hanmanth says that even the people suffering from leprosy have an equal right to live and they shouldn’t be sidelined by the society

Leprosy-auto-driver-featured-image

Childhood is a memorable phase of one’s life. Sadly, I wasn’t that lucky! My beloved father, whom I looked up to, left my ailing mother who was suffering from leprosy. Furthermore, he went on marrying someone else completely ignoring the fact that he had a family. Our world turned upside down. But, my mother was not in the mood give up and she made the ends meet by begging, as it was the question of our survival. The people of the leprosy colony saw my mother crying and asked her to live with them. The brave lady would take care of the household chores as well as of our wants and needs. She beared the pain and yet gave hope to others ,” said Hanmanth.”

Hanmanth dressing the wound of the patient
Hanmanth dressing the wound of the patient

Unfortunately, in the year 1996, she left for the heavenly abode. “I remember my mother encouraged other people, who used to cry on their plight. She would say, don’t worry; my son will help you sail through it. She would always tell me that, unlike us, I don’t want others to suffer. So, I decided that I will do whatever I can,” said Hanmanth.

From the year 1998, I am taking care of leprosy patients. Considering I am a rickshaw driver, I earn Rs 500 per day, of which 200 goes for the people suffering with leprosy. “There is no one to treat them. I provide help to the leprosy patients by dressing their wounds, giving them first aid and also taking them to the government offices to help them in getting benefits of schemes for leprosy patients. In 2002, I opened the Mahatma Gandhi Leprosy Dispensary Centre in the colony, to provide regular dressing to the leprosy patients. He even took basic training from a doctor at the Leprosy Treatment Centre. Here, the people from district leprosy office come, once in six months and give them chappals and kit which is insufficient,” said Hanmanth.

Hanmanth with his wife
Hanmanth with his wife

My wife Bassama, who is my backbone, also helps the women with leprosy for their delivery and my kids too. “I take them to the clinic and since no one want to touch them, I do their deliveries. We seek everyone’s support for this. People should come forward and help these people,” said Bassama.

Yankuba, a leprosy patient who was helped by Hanmanth thanked him. “He is helping me since a month. I am feeling better than before but I am in a lot of pain. I am happy that Hanmanth is doing his bit for us,” said Yankuba.

Hanmanth says that he gets immense satisfaction to help people as even they have a right to live their life. “I never felt disgusted. Instead, I feel peaceful. I would like to urge the government to take some concrete measures and help these people, so that they can survive. While, I would I like to tell society that don’t neglect them, they are like you and me and they equally deserve a happy and a healthy life. Though, I will keep on doing what I do as if not me? Then who?” said Hanmanth with teary eyes.