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COVID-19 Response Project in Bangladesh Part3: Self-help Group Leaders

Between June and July, 2020, we funded a COVID-19 community support project in four districts of a leprosy-endemic division of northwest Bangladesh. The project was implemented by local self-help groups of persons affected by leprosy with the support of Lepra Bangladesh. In Bangladesh as in other countries, persons affected by leprosy and their families face various difficulties—economic and social—as a result of leprosy and these have been exacerbated by the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Delivering essential supplies and services safely and reliably to households most in need of help as a result of the pandemic presented a challenge to the self-help groups. In this post, we introduce two of the leaders who were involved in these efforts.

 

Sharif (70), Bogura District representative

Since 2014, Sharif has represented Bogura Federation, which brings together 101 self-help groups across all 12 sub-districts of Bogura district. Sharif was diagnosed with leprosy in his mid-50s. By then, the disease had already progressed and he was suffering from ulcers, paralysis and visible disabilities. Drawing on his own experiences, he has spread awareness of leprosy throughout the district and focused on giving hope to those who have been rejected by their families and communities because of their disabilities.

For this project, Sharif was in close contact with all the self-help groups in every sub-district, exchanging information with them and getting involved with everything from selecting beneficiaries and distributing food to raising awareness in the community. Responsible for overseeing activities throughout the district, he listened to what the leaders in each sub-district were saying and worked with them to solve any problems.

In addition to the activities that persons affected by leprosy have carried out to date, Sharif believes it is important that their voices are reflected in the country’s institutions and public services and so they are making themselves heard not just within the district but at the national level too.

 

Jeva (43), Treasurer, Pabna District

Jeva is also someone who played an important part in this project.

She married at 17 and was diagnosed with leprosy six months later. Her husband divorced her and she experienced severe mental distress. Based on what she went through, she puts a lot of effort into counselling persons affected by leprosy who are suffering from mental stress.

For this project, in cooperation with branch members and community champions, Jeva visited homes of persons affected by leprosy in the district to check up on their circumstances and the state of their mental health. What Jeva and the others found was that as daily life became more difficult as a result of the pandemic, the need for counselling increased. As a result, they are planning to continue these activities so as to stay close to the families and help them regain their spirits.

 

It is clear that the support provided by committed and determined leaders such as Sharif and Jeva has helped to bring hope to many. We look forward to their further success as we work together to overcome the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Check out the Facebook pages of Bogura Federation and Lepra Bangladesh for daily updates on their activities. 

Related articles

2020/8/19 COVID-19 Response Project in Bangladesh
2020/9/11 COVID-19 Response Project in Bangladesh Part2: Community Champions
See here for more information about what our Foundation is doing to support communities of persons affected by leprosy during the COVID-19 pandemic.