The Leprosy Mission Trust India (TLMTI) www.tlmindia.org is the largest leprosy-focused Non-Governmental Organization in India. We work with and for people affected by Leprosy and other Neglected Tropical Diseases, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups like tribals and rural and urban poor, particularly women. Our Programme, operational in 9 states , addresses healthcare, education, sustainable livelihoods, community development, advocacy, research and training. in close collaboration with Government ministries and departments at state and national levels, the National Leprosy Eradication Programme, World Health Organization (WHO), International Federation of Anti Leprosy Associations (ILEP), grass roots level organizations, national and international development and research bodies. TLMTI is a legally registered non-profit organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 in India and headquartered in New Delhi.
About This Cause
The Leprosy Mission was founded in 1874 by an Irishman, Wellesley Cosby Bailey, who was moved to action at the plight of leprosy sufferers outcast and uncared for by their own people and living with terrible physical deformities in inhuman conditions in the India of the 1870's. Today, The Leprosy Mission Trust India (TLMTI) www.tlmindia.org is the largest leprosy-focused Non-Governmental Organization in India.
Our Vision: People affected by leprosy living with dignity in a transformed, inclusive society that has overcome leprosy.
Our Mission: We work with individuals and communities disadvantaged by leprosy, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, by addressing their physical, mental, social and spiritual needs to uphold human dignity and eradicate leprosy.
Our priority focus continues to be Leprosy along with other Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in India and Disability prevention and management along with other development initiatives among the marginalized communities with whom we work in all our locations with a special focus on women.
TLMTI projects are in the domains of Health; Sustainable Livelihoods & Empowerment; Advocacy & Communications; Research & Training with the domain support of Learning & Development; Finance; Human Resources; Internal Audit & Risk Management and Resource Mobilization for programme effectiveness.
TLMTI Health Programme
The Health programme is operational through a network of 14 hospitals and 1 clinic in 9 states of India (West Bengal, UP, AP, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bihar, Delhi and Uttarakhand). The hospitals are Government of India recognized Tertiary Leprosy Referral Hospitals for diagnosis of leprosy and specialized leprosy care. They also provide secondary level services in Dermatology, General Medicine, General Surgery, Ophthalmology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Plastic Surgery, General Physiotherapy and Occupational therapy, catering mostly to poor and lower income groups. Overall, the Health Programme has around 650 beds. The hospitals also offer primary level promotive and preventive healthcare through community outreach and community based disability management. Annually the hospitals have around 600,000 patient consultations, 16,000 patient admissions and 10,000 surgeries. Older people severely disabled by leprosy and disowned by their families and communities receive holistic care in 5 residential homes called Snehalayas. TLMTI supports the NLEP in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi through specialized leprosy care, capacity building of General healthcare staff and strengthening the Referral System in these States.
Sustainable Livelihoods & Empowerment programmes
The Sustainable Livelihoods & Empowerment programmes are operational through 6 Vocational Training Centres and 7 community based projects in 6 states.
Vocational Training for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme runs in 6 states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Since the 1980s, it has been equipping a particularly disadvantaged group of young people affected by leprosy and disability and culturally restricted by gender from the most underprivileged sections of society, with livelihoods and entrepreneurial skills, leadership skills, financial and workplace skills, and knowledge of human rights for them to engage in the formal economy through a first job. This is furthered by sensitization of partners and employers on disability friendly workplaces and non discriminatory practices. Every year over 1200 young people from this target group of people affected by Leprosy and disability and rural poor women graduate from our institution and community based vocational training courses. They join the Indian workforce as productive and socially responsible citizens, showcasing that given equitable opportunities and skills, they can be role models challenging established systems, promoting social inclusion and escaping poverty. Over 55 percent of TLMTI’s vocational education trainees are women. Over 50 percent of the trainees are affected by leprosy or disability. Over 75 percent of the trainees undergo the training subsidized or free of cost under this program. TLMTI has the expertise and track record in working with the target populations both at institutional and community level in a) access issues, b) custom disability aids and adaptations to work place tools , c) training in self care, d) education on rights and entitlements for people with disabilities, e) gender issues, f) employer sensitization on disabled friendly workplaces and non-discriminatory practices g) education on available loans and schemes and h) education on life skills (includes work & business skills) and coping mechanisms. The Programme has an overall strategy of technical skilling side by side with education on soft skills for employability, financial and entrepreneurial skills, fair labour conditions and human rights coupled with employment and Alumni support for economic progress and social inclusion of the target group in the mainstream. Key innovations that influence thought leadership within and outside the organization are:
1. Employer sensitization for fair labour conditions, disabled friendly workplaces and non-discriminatory practices.
2. An Alumni Association of graduates that offers a professional network and mentoring.
3. Two year follow up of graduates by the Placement Officers to document increased savings capacity and social inclusion and to support career development.
Community empowerment for people affected by leprosy and disability and marginalized women is for their economic progress and social inclusion into the mainstream. Through our projects we enhance their capabilities and provide secure livelihoods. We focus on Self Help Groups (SHGs) to ensure equality, economic benefits through income generation and create solidarity; the aim being to federate the SHGs for their long term sustainability. We work for empowerment of women for positive and multidimensional impact in the society including strengthening of family structures, enhancing family income, childcare and development, social and political advancement while reducing vulnerability and marginalization within the family and communities. Over 1500 SHGs formed through various TLMTI projects continue to be given requisite skills training in entrepreneurship, life skills, technical skills pertaining to their enterprise and functional literacy where needed along with appropriate support to develop their business plans and link with banks for credit support. SHG members are also capacitated to take up issues that affect the lives of the people in the community. One of our projects specifically works with artisans with disabilities to enhance their skills, to increase competitiveness and meet the demands of the local market, access government services and form advocacy networks. We work with communities to build their understanding of leprosy and disabilities and their capacity to support people affected by leprosy and disabilities during their rehabilitation. Our Self Care Groups (SCGs) bring together people with leprosy related disabilities to prevent further injury in the work place or at home. SCGs build awareness on disability rights, and offered a forum for people affected by leprosy to meet, share experiences, discuss issues and support each other. Our educational scholarships; skills-based training and literacy programmes make the difference between poverty and prosperity for people affected by leprosy and disabilities. Our awareness programs in schools advocate and facilitate inclusive education. Youth in professional courses are provided support to access educational loans/grants, schemes and services. Emphasis is also laid on facilitating study environments and family situations that promote learning and study. We also promote adult literacy programs for rural poor women. This ensures that all individuals in our programmes have access to learning and resources that meet their needs and respect their rights.
Advocacy and Communication
People affected by leprosy continue to be excluded in the larger social, cultural & political framework. We seek to address this through a Rights Based Approach where people affected by leprosy are seen as the holders of social, civil, political and economic rights. We aim at creating mass awareness on leprosy thereby influencing all stakeholders for positive action and building an inclusive society. Our campaigns work towards addressing misconceptions, harmful cultural practices, societal norms and structural and systemic inequalities through strategic communication and platforms of engagement to raise awareness and action on the multiple facets of leprosy. The aim being to ensure behaviour and social change within our society. Simultaneously, we educate people affected by leprosy on their rights and entitlements and facilitate linkages with other bodies that address issues of marginalization so that they become empowered. We also engage with government agencies and representatives to create enabling policies and legislative environment that creates and sustains social transformation.
The significance of leprosy related research is very high in India considering the burden of leprosy in the country and the stigma and discrimination associated with it. There are unanswered questions about modes of transmission, reservoirs of infection, drug resistance, mechanism of nerve damage and effective therapy to prevent disability. We lack tools for early detection of leprosy and lepra reactions. TLMTI is a leader in clinical, laboratory based and social research on leprosy. Our multi disciplinary, multi centre research generates evidence based knowledge in the focus areas of Transmission and Contact tracing; Early diagnosis; Immune and Chemo prophylaxis; Bio-Markers for early detection; Alternative drugs; Sentinel Surveillance for drug resistance and emerging patterns of resistance; Stigma measurement and reduction; Community based Action; research on Inclusion and Integration and Advocacy Research.