Guntur 522 101
Fax: 91-86-24325167 (pp)
Bethany Colony Leprosy Association is a self-run community of more that 600 leprosy patients and their families in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh.
Initial settlers were leprosy patients who had been discharged from a local leprosy hospital in the mid 1950s. Although many had been cured of their disease, the social stigma of leprosy is such that in many cases it was impossible for these patients to return to their native homes and families.
Instead, they built up a small squatter settlement of mud and thatch houses where fellow leprosy patients, rejected from mainstream society, could find shelter and mutual support. Because those associated with leprosy also found it difficult to find employment, most of these early settlers also relied on begging as their main source of income.
In 1965 the villagers registered themselves as an Association with the Indian Government, elected their own set of Elders, and fought for basic rights such as pensions and subsidies on essential foods.
Inspired by their strength and determination to regain the dignity that had been taken from them by society, external help came in the form of foreign aid from 1970s onwards.
BETHANY - NOW
It is a thriving community of around 1,000 people, all of whom benefit from the essential welfare and income generating schemes that have been set up in the village.
A Weaving Unit provides part time work for 200 village women, while Gardening Projects, a Gem Cutting Unit and a Plastic Moulding Unit provide full-time work for another 200 men and women.
A Care Centre and an Elementary School aim to provide Bethany's new generation with a good start in life, while a Care Programme provides free meals and clothing for those who are too elderly or handicapped to make a living in any other way.
All villagers are also provided with free leprosy care in the Clinic, which is staffed by trained Bethany villagers, and basic Cyclone Proof Houses have been built for each and every family, providing protection against the cyclones to which the area is prone.
Buying the high-quality hand-woven bags and kitchen linen produced in Bethany means top of the range products for you or your organisation and work for more than 200 people in Bethany Leprosy Colony. All the goods produced in Bethany are highly durable, carefully designed to keep up with current trends, and are made from 100% cotton. They are also highly saleable in European and domestic markets, as repeat orders from Alternative Trading Organisations across the globe have proved. Our products which range from neck-purses, shopping bags, school bags, rucksacks, tablecloths, aprons and hats.
Share on Facebook