She was only 20 when Ram Kali, from a remote village in Bihar, began experiencing numbness in her hands and feet. Her husband took her to the local hospital. When they confirmed it was leprosy, her husband left her at the hospital and never returned. She spent three days on the streets. Her feet dropped and fingers clawed. A stranger brought her to The Leprosy Mission Hospital (TLM) at Naini in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad) where corrective surgeries were performed on her feet and hands. “They couldn’t correct the deformities in my hands as the disease had progressed too far. But they cared for me and provided nutritious food, lodging and healthcare free of charge.”
The hospital is supported by RC Allahabad Elite, RID 3120. It serves around 450 people a day, offering general medicine, surgical services, ophthalmology, dermatology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and provision of footwear and assistive devices. They also have a 150-bed in-patient facility named Snehalaya, a residence for leprosy patients who have nowhere to go.
“Those with disabilities from the disease face extreme stigma from the community. Leprosy is curable, but changing people’s mentality is difficult,” says Ritesh Singh, past president of the club. TLM caters to patients from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The club recently donated an automatic chapati making machine worth ₹2.36 lakh in the presence of PRID C Basker. “It makes 800 rotis an hour, enough to feed 400 people on the campus,” adds Singh.
Ram Kali who has been living on the campus for over 40 years now says, “If I wasn’t here, nobody would have taken care of me and I’d probably be on the streets begging. But here, I have everything. I don’t need anything else.” Singh says that inside the walls of TLM, leprosy patients find hope. “Children with clawed fingers and patches on their skin, young amputees and elderly patients are taken care of by a community of doctors and nurses that truly empathises with them. Our club is proud to associate with them and help them improve lives.”
A request was made by the hospital for a commercial washing machine in order to hygienically wash and dry patients’ clothes. PRID Basker immediately offered to help. His club RC Karur, RID 3000, together with RC Allahabad Elite recently installed a washing unit costing ₹6.68 lakh and it was inaugurated by IPDG Stuti Agarwal, in the presence of 21 members from RC Karur. Poonam Ray, President of RC Allahabad Elite, thanked PRID Basker for the facility.