Udayan, Resurrection Home for Children with Leprosy
Two hundred and fifty boys and fifty girls call Udayan home. Aged 4 to 16, from all religious backgrounds, they come from the leper colonies of the slums of Calcutta, rescued from a future that is both short and painfully bleak.
Once at Udayan (Resurrection), they begin treatment--all suffer from leprosy, many from tuberculosis, as well as a host of other infections that accompany extreme poverty. It may take up to a year of costly antiobiotics, physical therapy and a high protein diet to restore the children to health. In addition, as they undergo treatments that heal their bodies, the children of Udayan receive a complete education. Under the supervision of trained teachers, they receive instruction in academic subjects, as well as yoga, music, arts and crafts, sports such as football, badminton, and the typical Indian games of carom, and kabadddi.
Training for Life
Perhaps most importantly, Udayan equips the children with the skills that will enable them to earn a living. Thanks to a complete sewing and weaving workshop, the children make their own clothes, as well as items that are then sold in Calcutta. Many alumni go on to become tailors when, at 15 or 16, they leave the home. Udayan provides them with a loan to open a shop and buy a sewing machine. Other trades taught include electrical wiring, bicycle repair, carpentry, arc welding, mechanics, and leather work.
Students of Udayan visit their families, and their families visit them regularly. Few things are more touching than witnessing the reunion between an Udayan boy and his parents. Adults whose lives and bodies have been ravaged by leprosy can see and hold and watch their now-healthy children.
Udayan also offers scholarships to help the most gifted to continue their studies. Today, several ex-Udayan children occupy positions of responsibilities in prestigious firms such as Air India and Escort Tractors.
Thanks to Dominique Lapierre, the home has been able to buy several acres of land surrounding the school. There, the children receive a hands-on education in agriculture, as well as chicken and fish farming. The rice, vegetables, fish, eggs and chickens that are the fruits of their labor have made Udayan partly self-supporting in terms of food.