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SOURCE The Leprosy Mission Trust of India (LMTI)
NEW DELHI, India, June 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
The Leprosy Mission Trust of India (LMTI) announced that Maureen O'Connell, CFO at Scholastic Corporation, has joined hands to support the HEAL India initiative by the Trust. She has not just joined as a donor but is willing to support as a volunteer as well. The donation will extend support towards creating awareness about the cause, myths, educational programmes, job opportunities, rights & entitlements among the schools, communities, people affected by leprosy and their families to enable them to lead a life of dignity.
People affected with leprosy are known to be stigmatized, discriminated and their human rights are consistently violated. "Misconceptions lead to discrimination, denying people affected by leprosy the right to a job they deserve. HEAL India is helping people affected by leprosy access employment opportunities. Helping them improve their skills through workshops, trainings and connecting them to organizations. Giving them a fair chance to earn a living."
"Millions of people have been cured of leprosy and yet, many struggle to get a job. Most of them are able, talented and hardworking and a lot like us - except they don't get a chance to work and have an economically empowered future," said Dr. Sunil Anand, Director Of The Leprosy Mission Trust of India.
A big issue is that in many parts of India, leprosy is seen as a curse or a justified punishment for the sins people have committed and is considered infectious as well. This is not just limited to social discrimination as at least 17 national and 40 state laws contain discriminatory laws including prohibiting affected people from contesting elections, obtaining a driving license and travelling in trains. There are also existing laws that can allow leprosy to be used as a reason for divorce which means affected people can lose their home, belongings and access to their children.
Maureen O'Connell said, "I am touched with the conditions of people affected by leprosy and the discrimination against them and I hope I can help improve the lives of these people in some way. It is very disheartening to see what they go through because of social stigmas."
Leprosy can be fully treated and cured within 6-12 weeks. There are over 850 colonies for people affected with leprosy in India. The LMTI is advocating including them into mainstream society.
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