Premala was sitting on the edge of the bed at the Leprosy Mission hospital. At a first glance she appeared healthy. But as she lifted the edge of her sari, she revealed that she had lost both of her legs.
Premala was from a desperately poor family. To make matters worse, her mother had died and her father was terminally ill. At 22 years of age, Premala was left to hold the family together.
She soon began feeling numbness in her legs and eventually had to seek medical help. But by the time she was diagnosed with leprosy, the infections were so deep and dangerous that both legs had to be amputated. Her situation seemed hopeless and she fell into a deep depression.
Premala’s recovery was spent at the hospital in Kolkata, India. The staff there cared for her emotionally, physically and spiritually as they prayed with her and encouraged her each day.
Eventually, Premala’s mood brightened as learned to use the artificial legs she was given and began to walk through the wards of the hospital. Her sunny smile was certainly a blessing to everyone. But perhaps more importantly, she was an inspiration to the other patients who listened to her words of comfort, hope and understanding.
Premala became a shining example that leprosy can be defeated. She gave other patients the promise that a future of hope was possible for them, too.
In fact, she was so skilled at lifting the spirits of the patients that she became a volunteer and later a member of the hospital staff. Despite her tragic loss, Premala became a source of hope for others.