About the pictures

Leprosy (or disease of Hansen) is a chronic infectious disease due to a bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae, according to the World Health Organization, leprosy can be fully cured with multidrug therapy (MDT), it has to be treated as early as possible, if not it can cause serious damage to the body. Skin lesions, numbness in the limbs and eyes are common and permanent. Believed by many to be permanent and highly contagious, it is in fact neither. Leprosy affected people suffer from different levels of disabilities, most cannot work properly anymore, there are also shunned by their families as the disease is seen as dirty and is scarring families. With the progressive numbness, leprosy hides the pain and thus people are not warned from injuries that they impose to themselves. They are discriminated because of their disease, most of the time they have no other choice than begging on the street. Although there is a simple cure, the disease remains highly endemic in India and other countries.The two colonies I had the opportunity to visit are quite different, in one of them people are beggars living close to the city center, in the other one which is in the outskirt of the city people farm and help each other without begging. Some people in the colony receive scarce disability pay from the government, other receive money from their families. The colony dwellers visit their families from time to time but usually they set their permanent homes in the colonies where they can stay away from discrimination and help each other, “[Ashapur (one of the colonies)] is my home, my heart lies here” says Janardan who was diagnosed with leprosy in 1978 and has only been home once during the last 30 years. People in the colony are assigned small tasks according to their abilities, tasks range from farming, cleaning or cooking to leading evening prayers.