A stigma is a negative view of a person based on something about him or her. If you think about it, many illnesses get stigmatized—not just mental illness. People with HIV or AIDS still cope with stigma. People with cancer once had to cope with stigma. But one woman is helping fight the stigma associated with Hansen’s disease, as known as leprosy.
In many countries, there is a fear of Hansen’s that leads to stigma and discrimination. There is a lack of understanding and knowledge about the disease, which increases misconceptions about its transmission and treatment.
Hansen’s is a mildly infectious disease easily treated with a combination of antibiotics, yet a quarter of a million people are diagnosed with it each year.
The tragedy is when leprosy is “hidden” and not treated. It damages and disables, slowly destroying each aspect of a person’s life.
And that’s why the life’s work of Sr. Suso Kottirikal is changing the world. Read her inspiring story here.
Kottirikal is fighting the stigma and misunderstandings surrounding leprosy, so people will seek treatment and all healthcare professionals would recognize its symptoms. A Catholic nun living and working in central India, Kottirikal has dedicated 18 years to serving people with Hansen’s disease. According to those who know her, her efforts have changed hearts and minds of even doctors and nurses in remarkable ways.
Kottirikal is making tremendous strides in fighting stigma and discrimination against people with Hansen’s.
Almost everyone who embarks on the journey of purposeful living eventually becomes both a philanthropist and a servant-leader. One person may give millions, another a few dollars, while others give time, but the principle they follow is the same: the more you give the more you get back.
So, I think Kottirikal may be on to something.