Today (March 8th) is International Women's Day, a global day to celebrate women’s achievements and together renew our commitment to gender equality.
Thank you for supporting women in Africa and Asia. In the countries where The Leprosy Mission works, women affected by leprosy still face a 'triple threat' of discrimination due to gender, disability and stigma. This means they are often diagnosed and treated later than men, increasing chances of becoming disabled.
It's always wonderful to hear the stories of those whose lives you've helped transform and today I want you to meet an amazing woman from the village of Namatua in Mozambique. Her determination and perseverance against all odds is inspiring.
Maria is the president of ALEMO, the association of people affected by leprosy in her region. She's a confident public speaker who's determined to make a difference - but like many affected by the disease, she's been through some challenging times. When Maria was diagnosed with leprosy, health workers reassured her that she would be cured, but the stigma of the disease meant her husband rejected her. One day, he left for work and never returned.
Left on her own with their nine-year-old son, Maria was heartbroken and didn’t know where to turn for help. She shared her fears about leprosy with a community volunteer, who put her mind at rest. He was able to dispel myths about the disease, and work with Maria’s neighbours to teach them about leprosy and end the stigma around it.
Maria was accepted back in to her village. Now, every Wednesday, Maria shares the same love that she was shown by the community volunteer to as many people as possible. She leads a group, travelling from village to village to tell others about leprosy and how they can be cured.
As a Leprosy Changemaker, Maria has also been trained to teach villagers how to save money. The knowledge and skills that Maria shares mean that both individual families and the entire community can look forward to a more secure future. Why not watch this short video to hear Maria talk about her work and passion for change?
It's your continuing support that has helped transform the lives of women like Maria - and until 24 April the UK government is doubling gifts to the Unconditional Appeal, meaning that your gifts will make twice the difference. Now Maria and other women like her are at the heart of transformation in their communities, leading the way to a future free from leprosy, stigma and poverty.
Happy International Women’s Day!
If possible, please make donations through our church treasurers: Richard Huntingdon, Market Harborough, or Fiona Clarkson, Kibworth.