Due to stigma associated with leprosy, people affected by leprosy and their families are deprived of opportunities to earn their livelihoods. Excluded from their community, they lack support from their families as well. Leprosy stigma and financial insecurity can prevent people affected by leprosy and their families from gaining employment or accessing education. Moreover disability, as a result of leprosy, can prevent a person from continuing their income generating activities pushing them into poverty. The children of the leprosy affected families are constrained from pursuing higher education due to their poor economic condition.
Education and training can mean the difference between poverty and prosperity for people affected by leprosy. It is important to create regular and assured income flows through sustainable livelihood activities (i.e. activities to earn a living which maintain a consistent quality of life) to enable people affected by leprosy to work their way out of poverty and provide a secure future for their children.
TLMTI recognises that it is essential for communities to be enabled and to develop self reliance. We work alongside leprosy-affected communities to enhance capabilities and resilience in order to earn gainful living thus improving their quality of life. Our education and training programme for sustainable livelihoods encompasses broad-based capacity development, including both formal and non-formal education systems at all levels.
Community Based Rehabilitation and Self Care
TLMTI works with communities to build their understanding of leprosy and disabilities and their capacity to support people with leprosy or with general disabilities. The Self Care Groups (SCG) created with support from TLMTI share information about leprosy and the different techniques and self-care activities for preventing them. SCGs also build awareness on disability rights, reunite people affected by leprosy with their families and offer a forum for people affected by leprosy to meet, share experience, discuss issues, build solidarity and support each other.
Low Cost Housing
In many poor areas of India, where leprosy is most prevalent, many people due to low income, illiteracy and discrimination, cannot afford adequate shelter. TLMTI supports these people to build houses in their communities by contributing technical expertise (e.g. construction designs, supervision of construction etc) and fund the capital costs of the construction while the people provide land and contribute a percentage of the building cost through donation in kind (e.g. building materials) or labour.
Self Help Groups
To enhance their capabilities and provide economic benefits through income generation and create solidarity, TLMTI works with people affected with leprosy and general disabilities through Self Help Groups (SHGs).
More than 1500 SHGs formed through various TLM livelihood projects continue to be given requisite skills training in entrepreneurship, life skills, technical skills pertaining to their enterprise and functional literacy where needed. TLMTI provides appropriate handholding support to SHGs to develop their business plans and link with banks for credit support. The SHG members are also capacitated to take up issues that affect the lives of the people in the community.
Vocational Education and Training
TLMTI’s six Vocational Training Centers (VTCs) train students in various trade related courses. The students include those who are personally affected by leprosy, those from a leprosy background, those with general disabilities and other marginalized youth. VTCs offer government recognised certified courses which meet market demands and the specific physical needs of people affected by leprosy (e.g. limited mobility etc). Students are also provided with life skills training (skills to deal with issues in daily life), career counselling and self care training to prevent disability or injury at home or at workplace. After students complete their training TLMTI facilitates work placements with corporate partners or support them to move into self employment to provide long term financial security for the students and their families.
TLMTI assists children from leprosy backgrounds to access secondary and higher education by providing an annual scholarship to enable their parents to meet the cost associated with sending their children to school.