Saroja and Asha - Two Peas in a Pod

Saroja and Asha met at the Leprosy Mission Hosptial in Naini

Saroja is the eldest of six children. Her father works as a brickmaker and her mother is a homemaker. Saroja's dad does not earn enough to support his family. Saroja attended school for two years but had to drop out to look after her younger siblings. Saroja was only 11 years old when she was diagnosed with leprosy. She was terrified – She cried for eight hours straight on the day she was admitted in our partner hospital, The Leprosy Mission Hospital, Naini. 

Then she met Asha. She told us, "I do not miss home anymore, I like the hospital now because Asha is here with me." 

Asha, herself has known much suffering. She is a 23-year-old who grew up in poverty and was married as a child bride at 12 years old. Her husband abandoned her soon after the marriage. Her father died of a heart attack in 2011. The heartache continued – Soon after dad's passing, she noticed swelling in her legs. “Soon, patches slowly developed on my face, back, hands, legs, everywhere,” she said. Her relatives began mistreating her. “I did not know what was happening to me. I felt very sad. I cried a lot.”

Thankfully, her grandfather had a friend affected by leprosy and he referred Asha to The Leprosy Mission Hospital, Naini. Asha felt at ease with the caring doctors and nurses and it is here she met 11-year-old Saroja who also has leprosy.

They developed a close friendship despite the age gap. “She’s like my little sister...we are like two peas in a pod", said Asha. 

For leprosy patients, like Asha and Saroja, Multidrug Therapy must be administered regularly anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to be effective. Both Saroja and Asha started to see the improvements within two weeks of starting the treatment. 

They are doing well but they need ongoing care and medication - Asha lives a two-hours away and Saroja lives five hours away from the hospital. COVID-19 travel restrictions have made it make it difficult for them to access the medicine they need to continue to get better. Patients like Asha and Saroja also have compromised immune systems, which makes them more susceptible to Coronavirus. 

We need to do all we can to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic!

We are working with a partner lab to purchase 2 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machines to ensure young women and children in some of the poorest regions of India have a chance to be tested for COVID-19. Testing reduces the spread of the virus and saves lives (especially those who are struggling with neglected tropical diseases like leprosy).

Thanks to you, we have already purchased one PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machine to conduct the testing in the lab.  We still need your help to purchase the second mobile testing unit to reach people like Asha and Saroja. Will you please help?