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Durham Rotarians enable leprosy patients to have life-changing surgery

What started as a heartfelt speech by a charity worker has led to 113 patients living in poverty in India to receive life-changing surgery ...

What started as a heartfelt speech by a charity worker in the North East has led to 113 patients living in poverty in India to receive life-changing surgery.

Area co-ordinator for The Leprosy Mission in the North East, John Roughley, gave a talk on the charity’s transforming work with people affected by leprosy to the Rotary Club of Durham in August 2011.  This spurred its members to begin fundraising to help those pushed to the fringes of society by leprosy.

Members initially raised £3,500 by carrying out fundraising activities including collecting parking money from Durham University’s car park on a Saturday morning – part of the University’s charity giving.

The money raised was matched by Rotary International District 1030 in the North East which incorporates 68 clubs stretching from North Yorkshire to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The Rotary International Foundation, based in Chicago, then added a further £5,000.  Donations from other international Rotary Clubs including the Rotary Club of Kolkata Victoria and the Rotary Club of Durham in North Carolina as well as a gift from the Rotary Club of Mansfied, Nottinghamshire and further grants brought the total value to more than £22,000.

The 113 life-changing operations are being carried out at The Leprosy Mission’s Premananda Memorial Leprosy Mission Hospital in Kolkata.

Dr Helen Roberts, Medical Superintendent at Premananda Memorial Leprosy Hospital, said it was extremely grateful for the donation.

She said:  “Surgical rehabilitation is truly a blessing for many young lives.  It enables them to have a productive and better quality of life.  The knowledge they gain about leprosy from their own experience and what they learn during their stay at Premananda Memorial Leprosy Hospital often prompts treatment of others living in the community.”

John Roughley said:  “Nearly half the country’s population – more than 500 million people – live on less than £1 a day.  Leprosy is a disease of poverty.  Without the help of The Leprosy Mission the people receiving surgery, made possible by the magnificent effort initiated by the Rotary Club of Durham, faced a bleak future.

“They were likely to be left begging on the streets as disability and stigma surrounding leprosy would have prevented them from working and would even cause them to be shunned by their family and friends.

“We are hugely grateful for the generosity and the tenacious fundraising carried out by The Rotary Club of Durham and to everyone who supported their efforts.”






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