Could you imagine living with a disease that not only causes one to suffer horribly, but is also attached to a cultural stigma that ostracizes the sick from family, friends, work, and communities? Unfortunately, that is the harsh reality for the 3.2 million people afflicted with leprosy in India. These victims often endure life alone. They live in isolation and poverty, are shunned by their families, and often resort to begging in front of train stations and churches in order to survive. They are forced to depend upon the mercy and charity of others. AMG India remains committed to serving over 5,500 people suffering from leprosy each year.
As is our common practice, AMG leverages the insights of national and church leaders, who know their communities best, to identify and meet the deepest needs – spiritual and physical – while inspiring hope, restoring lives and transforming communities. One of the deepest needs in India involves caring for, treating, and ministering to leprosy victims.
Following the example of Jesus who touched the leprosy victims of His day, AMG reaches out to leprosy patients at all stages of the disease. National workers serving in our mobile medical units go into villages and townships throughout a large region of Southeast India to identify those who are facing the early stages of the disease, so that treatment can commence before any permanent physical damage is done. For those who have suffered longer with the illness we provide food, clothing and other essentials, along with the financial resources needed to treat vision aliments. In some areas, AMG also provides leprosy sufferers a place to live and work within a loving and accepting environment, where they learn new skills that will enable them to provide for themselves and their families.
Together, with our faithful and generous supporters, we regularly provide food to nearly 1,000 leprosy victims who are unable to work due to the deformities caused by the disease’s progression – victims like Veena. She and her husband are afflicted with leprosy. Their neighbors and relatives treated them as outcasts and drove them out of their village in South India. They used to have to beg in the streets and rely on the mercy of others just to survive. Oftentimes they went to sleep hungry. Then one day everything changed for the couple. Veena shared “I came to know about AMG, which was helping thousands of poor, needy and destitute people like us. We approached the ministry and they began giving us monthly rations of food, oil and clothes. I thank God for His love and compassion shown to us through AMG.” She goes on to say, “We will forever be grateful to God and thankful to AMG for the love that was shown to us and for providing hope for our future.”
One of the more pronounced effects of the disease is the onslaught of severe cataracts that can often result in blindness. AMG, though the support of donors like you, pays for leprosy victims to undergo cataract surgery at the local hospital to restore their sight while offering hope for a better tomorrow. The average cost of the cataract surgery is $35.00. Patients are treated, provided needed prescriptions, and given eyeglasses at no cost, which makes it possible for the afflicted to regain their sight, return to a more normal life, and provide for their families.
We do all this because we care about those who are suffering, just as Jesus does. We read in Luke chapter five, “While he was in one of the towns, a man was there who had leprosy all over him. He saw Jesus, fell facedown, and begged him: ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Reaching out his hand, Jesus touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be made clean,’ and immediately the leprosy left him.” Our ultimate goal with this ministry, as with of all our efforts, is to introduce people to Christ. By demonstrating the love of God in a tangible way, we are able to point people and families to the true source of hope.
Jayamma has been afflicted with leprosy since she was a little girl. Her parents were poor and didn’t have the funds to provide needed medical care, so the disease progressed. As a result, she was treated badly by some, and shunned by others. Culturally, many in India blame this ravaging disease on the “sins” committed in a previous life by the person who is infected. Imagine living with that kind of stigma. After Jayamma’s parents died, she was forced to start begging in the streets for food. She felt hopeless and grew angry at God. Then, all of a sudden, the bleak skies of her life parted. She shares, “someone in my village told me about AMG, which helps thousands of poor, needy and neglected people like me. When I went to the AMG office, I was gladly received with open arms and showed Christ’s love and compassion. The help I continue to receive from AMG allows me to live with respect as a dignified human being.”
Our ministry to leprosy victims requires significant ongoing resources to the tune of $90,000 annually.
Would you consider investing in AMG today to provide food, medicines, supplies and surgeries needed to extend God’s love and compassion to leprosy sufferers in India? If we don’t care for the afflicted, who will? Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of these, we do unto him. Together, we can make a lasting difference in people’s lives, impact families, and transform communities. Will you join us and change a life today?