The power of a Gift

Gifts left in Wills account for a third of our income, funding one in four life-transforming projects. Read on to learn more about Samir, a graduate of Bankura Vocational Training Centre (VTC), who despite being diagnosed with leprosy at 16 has gone on to become a successful businessman.

Blog - Samir and Family
Samir with his family. Photo: Kate Gent

Samir is 36 years old and lives in Bankura, India with his wife and two daughters, aged twelve and four. 20 years ago, when Samir was just 16, he noticed light patches on his skin and was told to go to Hospital. It was there he received the diagnosis – leprosy. As a young boy Samir found his diagnosis embarrassing and was very worried about what the future would hold.

Thankfully, Samir’s leprosy was found and treated at an early stage and so he did not develop any disabilities. After he had completed 2 years of MDT treatment the Government Hospital told him about Bankura Vocational Training Centre (VTC). The VTC provides training to approximately 150 young people affected by leprosy or disability, enabling them to access employment and become financially independent after graduating. Samir took the advice of the Hospital and went to Bankura VTC where he trained to be a mechanic.

Blog - Employee
One of Samir’s employees.

When we visited Samir recently, it was great to see how he has turned his life around. He now runs a thriving motorcycle repair business and employs seven people. Samir said that if he hadn’t had the opportunity to train at Bankura VTC then he would have had to go into cultivation work or would be sitting idle at home.

Samir’s success shows how a small investment in someone can help them transform their lives. Thanks to the training Samir received he was able to set up his own business and is financially independent – something he would not have thought possible when he was diagnosed with leprosy at a young age. He has a total income of 40,000 rupees a month (around £460) and uses 12,000 of this to pay his seven employees. He is already giving training to other students and would like to expand his business as much as possible in the future.

Blog - Employee (2)
Thanks to you Samir’s daughter will be able to grow up free from the devastating effects of leprosy

When asked at Bankura he said, “Bankura is helping people to set up in the community.”

Leaving a gift in your Will can help more people like Samir escape the devastating effects of leprosy, providing hope for the future. For more information please click here.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)



A day at Faizabad Vocational Training Centre

Hana Hill blogs about her experiences in India with the CALL For Change competition winners

Hana, along with the CALL for Change competition winners, visits Faizabad VTC.
Visiting Faizabad VTC

On April 8 we visited The Leprosy Mission’s Centre in Faizabad. The work that The Leprosy Mission Trust India are doing there truly is amazing, rebuilding people’s lives from the young to the old, and all of the students of the Vocational Training Centre (VTC) appeared to be so happy to be learning. Their dedication and commitment goes far beyond what we know from the western education system. The students’ days are structured and filled with all of the important elements for achievement. In the mornings they rise at 5am, exercise and then study; they then get ready for their day, eat breakfast and go to the chapel for devotions, after which they have an assembly presented by a different house group each day before commencing a day of classes.

As we met and spoke to the students as well as the staff it was clear that the approach taken here was one of a holistic nature, focusing not only on the students’ educational needs but also their social and spiritual needs. The morning assemblies were designed to improve confidence and public speaking, classes were run to increase their chances of future employment, and living at the VTC enabled the students to slowly build new lives for themselves. When the students finished their courses they would be secured with placements arranged by the centre, whether this were in mechanics, tailoring, ICT, computers or electrical repairing, The Leprosy Mission Trust India were able to provide their students with a better future.

Students at Faizabad VTC
Students at Faizabad VTC

We spoke with a young girl named Reeta, she was 18 years old and came to be at the VTC through a recommendation from her Aunt who had been receiving treatment for leprosy at the hospital.  Reeta is studying a formal course to become qualified as a tailor and talked to us about her experiences.

“When I first came to the centre I was very shy and barely spoke out or looked up, but with the help of the staff here I now feel confident and happy to be gaining a qualification and I look forward to getting a job. I enjoy my life on campus and my family and friends visit every Sunday. I feel anxious about leaving the centre and all that I have come to know, but I came here to learn a trade and have a better future.”

I’m sure that with the hope, confidence and skills that she has learnt, alongside the other students at the VTC, she will have a bright and successful future.

Later in the day we met some of the elderly men living at the Snehalaya (mercy home). Their family and friends had abandoned them, taking them to the hospital some 20 years before because they had leprosy and leaving them there. As soon as I met these men my eyes filled up with tears for the inhumanity of the situation. The men told us that people used to come and visit often, but now, they rarely come. One of the men, Dandiram, said that he loved to sing and that he had been waiting for an opportunity to sing to someone. He sang a song to us in Hindi about Jesus, and how he came to earth and was nailed to the cross, to die and to rise again after three days. He used his hands, visibly affected by leprosy, to act out the song to us.

Talking to Dandiram
Talking to Dandiram

After this he talked to us about how he had been nearly dead when he had come to be at the TLM Centre at Faizabad, and how he had been given a new life. I wasn’t sure if he meant physically or spiritually but I felt that he met both. Dandiram told us that he has great grandchildren who occasionally come to visit him; at first this made me feel happy, but then he told us that they come only to take what he has, which from what I could see around me was very little. I was difficult for me to understand why and how people could behave in such a way towards their own family. Although I had read about it on paper, meeting people who had been rejected from their families because of leprosy was an entirely different experience, which brought tears to my eyes.