Pandemic and people's plight. Experiences that echoed across India.
Of all the things that COVID-19 pandemic taught us, the most important was, perhaps, the fact that the ‘vulnerable population’ is not a homogenous entity. Their vulnerability is sometimes a complex intersection of different social variables: poverty, disability, stigma, exclusion, etc. Much to our dismay, the pandemic demonstrated how it affects different vulnerable groups differently, with adverse consequences being the constant factor.
This report is a humble attempt at distilling information from shared experiences and capturing the scale and diversity of the challenge that COVID-19 posed before those who were already living on the margins. The report has been prepared based on on-ground interviews of public health consultants, residents of leprosy colonies, ASHA workers, children affected by leprosy and those working for healing, inclusion and dignity of people affected by leprosy. In the process of drafting the report, we have gone through peer-reviewed research papers and conducted an online (and partly telephonic) survey of students from leprosy and disability backgrounds, who are studying / have passed out from The Leprosy Mission’s vocational training centres. The objective was to get as close to the lived realities.