Harvard graduate treating Bihar leprosy patients honoured
Raxaul, Bihar, Mar 18 : Commemorating ordinary women with extraordinary achievements everywhere, TV network CNN IBN awarded its 'Real Hero' honour to Kabita Bhattarai who battles leprosy in a remote corner of Bihar near the border with Nepal.
Almost single-handedly, Harvard graduate Kabita, reaches out to those affected by leprosy while managing 21 colonies housing the patients, providing free education to over 1000 children living in Raxaul and teaching vocational skills.
In an ashram set up by her mentor Baba Christodas near the Bihar-Nepal border under the Little Flower organisation, she has treated nearly half a million patients for free in her 240-bed leprosy hospital.
Leprosy is one of the least infectious diseases today, mainly because nearly all of the population have natural immunity against it.
Nevertheless, stigma against the disease due to its disfiguring effects causes its victims to be isolated and shunned.
It is also the leading cause of permanent disability and is primarily a disease of the poor which makes it harder to get treatment.
Kabita does not want the patients to see this as charity. So while the treatment is free, the family members can work voluntarily at the fields, handloom units, hospital, school and dairy farms, contributing to the community.
"You see all these people were once beggars, their fathers were beggars, but now they are not. But they are still in low level job which will not help them to change dramatically, but whoever has gone to graduation level, their lives have changed. It's a biggest change you could see in one lifetime," Kabita said at the award function recently.
When Christodas passed away, he left the responsibility of running the ashram to her.
Kabita hopes she can fulfil his last wish to one day make the project financially independent and leave it for the next generation of leprosy patients to run.
She understands that her challenge will be to lead the project to find answers for the second and third generation. And she has many plans for that, states Little Flowers' official website.