Youth Against Leprosy: Sasakawa India’s Movement to Rise Above Stigma

SILF organized nationwide camps to raise awareness and sensitize youngsters about the fight against Leprosy and behaviour change through a concerted campaign #YouAreNotAlone

Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation (S-ILF) organized ‘Youth Against Leprosy’, a National Youth Festival aimed to raise the awareness levels about leprosy amongst the younger generation. Held at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi, the festival was a finale of all participating colleges from all over India that undertook the program and training. The festival witnessed widespread participation of youth that engaged in creative activities to make the event a success.

S-ILF’s annual youth festival provides a platform for young people from non-leprosy backgrounds (students from different colleges/universities) to mingle and interact with youth from leprosy colonies. These interactions are aimed to bust myths and create social bridges among college youth regarding leprosy. Youth Festival helps to bridge the “us versus them” divide. The students are connected as a community through the campaign initiative named #YouAreNotAlone.

Addressing the event Mr Tarun Das, Chairman Sasakawa -India Leprosy Foundation said, “Unfortunately when it comes to leprosy there has been little or no education to address the several myths surrounding leprosy that result in stigma and discrimination of those affected. The younger generation, in particular, has very little or no understanding of leprosy as a disease. Whatever little they know is often vague and reaffirms the stigma against the disease. At the foundation, we are committed to sensitize the youth so that they can spread the word and contribute towards the elimination of stigma leading to a more inclusive and empathetic society.”

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