Tuesday 22 June 2021

Children, the Most Vulnerable


Before the introduction of multi-drug therapy (MDT), there was no effective cure for leprosy, and therefore people affected by the disease were isolated in leprosy colonies or leprosarium. This segregation was often enforced by law. As effective treatment and cure became available, many of these colonies were closed; but in a vast, developing country like India, they still exist in large numbers.

 Life in leprosy colonies offers few opportunities for the future.

        Access to education is fraught with challenges.

       Pathways to livelihood are often limited to rag-picking, daily labouring and begging (for those with deformities).

       The future for girls is limited to early child marriage, prostitution or becoming a maid.


Conditions here often fuel the spread of disease – cramped, unhygienic living conditions, lack of water and sanitation facilities, lack of proper nutrition, poor education – and other social issues born out of poverty (violence, abuse, alcohol) fester in the close confines of a leprosy colony.


And it is children, who are often the most vulnerable.

Risks at Every Turn

 The children of leprosy-affected families face risks at every turn.


       Risk of Disease – Leprosy is only contagious after prolonged contact with a person who is not undergoing treatment. Children are therefore most at risk of contracting the disease from other family members who they live in close proximity with.

       Malnutrition – Leprosy and poverty go hand in hand. And the first impact of poverty is on the health and nutrition of family members. With Leprosy affected people earning as little as 1500Rs per month, there is little money for 3 meals a day and everyone in the household suffers as a result.

       Lack of Education – Accessing education is fraught with difficulty at every turn: enrolment, transport to and from school, money for educational materials and accessing tutors are hurdles to jump. Leprosy affected children are ostracized in the classroom by teachers and peers, as well as bullied in the playground – impacting their ability to learn and grow into strong, confident adults.

       Unsafe Environment – Risks abound in a Leprosy Colony. Girls are vulnerable to being trafficked for prostitution or face harassment or abuse by older boys. Boys are susceptible to getting up to mischief, falling into alcohol or drugs or into petty crime. Violence is common. Substance abuse rife. A Colony is not a safe place for children to grow up in.

       Poverty - Leprosy has long been known as a disease of poverty and then leprosy itself, along with its disabilities and stigma, further pushes them toward poverty. This poverty becomes intergenerational as children are affected by the lack of money, lack of opportunity and the risks that come with poverty.


In order to break the intergenerational cycle of leprosy and poverty, childrenmust be given the chance to rise above leprosy – and Educationand Livelihoods provides the key …


This is what Udayan aims to do!

Monday 14 June 2021

Udayan Serves 2 New Leprosy Colonies

In January 2021, the Udayan team, comprising of the Director, Assistant Director and paramedical staff, visited 10 Leprosy Colonies in West Bengal to select new children to intake at Udayan. 
As part of this process, Udayan has extended its support to 2 new leprosy colonies whose children are in dire need of education:
  • Barakar Leprosy Colony located in the Bardhaman District
  • Bachurdoba Leprosy Colony in the Jhargram Paschim Medinipur District. 
In both colonies, the financial condition of families living there is dire, with their main sources of income being rag-picking, and daily labouring in nearby coal mines. Other are employed as domestic help and van pullers.  However total household income leaves families below the poverty line - impacting children the most.
During our visit, we conducted a door-to-door survey to identify children to admit to Udayan and will continue to work with these Colonies to help break the intergenerational cycle of leprosy there.

Up, Up & Away

The demand for nursing staff (both male and female) in government hospitals in West Bengal is increasing day by day, due to the impact of Covid19. 

Taking into consideration the great market demand and good salary provided in this field, 8 of our children (5 boys and 3 girls) were admitted to Rastogi College of Nursing, Bhilai, Chhattisgarh and are attending the General Nursing Midwifery (GNM) course (2020-2021 session). 

Classes commenced in April 2021 and all students are working diligently to optimise this life changing opportunity.

Children admitted in GNM in 2021:

Children admitted in Hotel Management in 2021:

For the first time in Udayan’s history, 4 of our boys have taken admission in a Hotel Management 3 year degree course in Rinpoche Academy of Management and Technology, Kolkata, which kick-started in October 2020.

The boys are enjoying the course and we are confident they will do well on completion thanks to the burgeoning hospitality industry in India, which we expect to bounce back significantly post pandemic.

Ready, STUDY, Go!


Udayan has always been striving to create a strong education structure for our children. Even in these tough times of COVID pandemic, our team is making efforts to help children continue with their studies and exam preparations.

Online Learning

The Covid -19 pandemic necessitated a migration from conventional schooling to remote learning. Udayan has successfully transitioned to digital learning where online classes via Google Meet are held for the students from Classes I-IV of Udayan Vidyalaya. Our Teachers conduct online classes from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. The morning schedule is convenient for parents who work outside. It helps children to attend the classes regularly and parents can carry mobiles to their work place after 11 am. A chapter revision test paper with 15 marks of each subject is provided to children every Friday evening through Whatsapp group. Our secondary school students are attending online classes of their respective government schools in groups under the guidance of staff members with laptops. All the children from Class V to Class VIII are participating in online activities conducted by their respective schools.

Board Exam Preparation

At Udayan, we take special care of children appearing for Class X and XII board examinations.  Unfortunately, board exams were cancelled across the state in 2021, however we are focussed on preparing our children for exams in 2022. As per the schedule prepared by Home Superintendent in consultation with children; all 2022 board examinees study for 8 hours a day - including self as well as group study sessions. Our House Brothers and House Mothers supervise special study hours, and children are provided with a special diet during the study sessions.

Leprosy Skin Screening Camp

In the Covid-19 lockdown phase, all the children were in close proximity with leprosy patients over a long period. Prolonged exposure can increase the probability of infection. Keeping this in mind, Udayan organized a ‘Leprosy Skin Screening Camp’ on 20th March 2021. Three children were diagnosed with leprosy and twenty-two children were identified with white patches and are suspected cases of leprosy.

Children Set to Return to Udayan


Udayan's children will be returning to Udayan this week, after heading home during the second phase of Covid19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown in West Bengal.  All will be happy to know that till date, no Udayan child has contracted COVID19 and all children are healthy.


On their return, the children will be provided with nutritious diet containing protein, vitamins and minerals regularly as per the doctor's advice. Apart from dietary aspects children will be involved in physical exercises (Pranayam, Yoga and Warm up exercises) as part of their Udayan’s routine.  Children in Udayan are using triple-layered masks, and practicing strict hygiene to protect them from the Covid -19 virus.

Prior to this lockdown, children were brought back to Udayan in Phases in 2020.  Phase 1 brought back students from class IX upwards. The children were quarantined at Udayan for 14 days, where we provided them food and other necessities separately. Similarly, in the 2nd and 3rd phase students from class V to VIII returned in the 1st week of January 2021 and children from class I to IV in February respectively. State rules and Udayan guidelines were followed in all three phases. 

We look forward to having the children back with us on campus and continuing their care and education.

Welcome Aboard - New Recruits!

Udayan recruited 3 new staff members during the Covid -19 lockdown period, adding some great talent to our team of staff. 

Mr. Sayan Guha was appointed as the Home Superintendant for Boys and has a Masters in Social Work with more than 7 years of experience in the NGO sector.

Sayan Guha

Mrs. Bharati Aich, (Masters in Social Work) has more than 14 years of experience in the Government as well as the NGO sector and has previously worked as a superintendent in two homes.  She has joined Udayan as a Home Superintendent for Girls.

Bharati Aich

Mrs. Sarmistha Ghosh, (Masters in Commerce) has more than 13 years of work experience with both International and National NGOs and joined Udayan in April 2021 as a Senior Accountant.  She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience and is excited to join the Udayan team.

Sharmishtha Ghosh

We whole heartedly welcome them to the Udayan family and look forward to seeing the positive impact they will have on our work and children.

Udayan is also in the process of recruiting a Communications Manager to join our team and we look forward to introducing you to them in our next edition of Dawn!

New & Renewed Funding Support!

Our partners and donors are our strongest pillars. Udayan has been able to bring a difference in the lives of several children from leprosy colonies. And this has been possible only with the continued support and faith of our supporters. In the last quarter too, we made some encouraging progress and express our heartfelt gratitude to our donors and partners.

LIC, under the LIC Gold Jubilee Foundation Grant, has supported Udayan with funds for the purchase of a new School Bus!  This is a valuable support, as the existing Udayan bus was nearing the end of its life on the road.  With a grant of Rs. 24,67,000 Udaayn will purchase a new 'Tata Star' 48 seater bus to ferry our students to and from school and other activities. A big thanks to LIC for their support!

SBI Life Funding Renewal

SBI Life Insurance's CSR Department, Udayan's major donor, has renewed their commitment to Udayan for this financial year. We are thankful to SBI Life Insurance for their generous support to our children to meet their education, health and nutrition needs for the financial year 2020 -2021.We appreciate your commitment to our cause.

Brick by Brick

Huge thanks to St. Joan of Arc School in the UK and City of Joy Aid, UK for their timely financial support to construct the 900/8 ft. boundary wall - which was profusely damaged by cyclone 'Amphan' in May 2020.  The cyclone uprooted many trees, electric poles, caused flooding and damaged the many properties in  North 24 Parganas, West Bengal.

The rebuilding of the boundary wall started on 26th July 2020 and was completed on 24th March 2021 - now all our children are safe within the newly built, strong campus walls!


City of Joy Aid, UK Renews Fred Kahl Health Centre Support

Our faithful friends in the UK at City of Joy Aid, UK, have once again renewed support for the health of our children, via the Fred Kahl Health Centre.  The renewed funding support will help cover the costs of visiting doctors, Specialist Treatment & Camps once in a year (Dental, Eye Check Up, ENT Camp & Skin Screening Camp for Leprosy detection), orientation on reproductive health to adolescents, personal hygiene kits for all children, distribution of supplements (folic acid) to adolescent girls, leprosy treatment and emergency medical care.  Thanks for helping us keep our children healthy and happy!

Joyful Wags - Friends of Udayan, Australia

We are happy to announce that Friends of Udayan Australia had launched the “Dog Bandana Project” to raise funds for three leprosy colonies in West Bengal. 100% of proceeds from the bandana sales would go into funding small rooms with supervision facilities for preschoolers in these leprosy colonies. During the Covid-19 lockdown in Australia, Deborah Bedford, a staunch supporter of Udayan, launched some exclusive dog bandanas, made with the help of her school-going granddaughters. The machine-sewed bandanas were in beautiful colours and each piece was exclusive. ‘FRIENDS OF UDAYAN AUSTRALIA’ labels were sewn onto each one and would be a perfect gift for your loved pet! The bandanas were priced at $15 each and a total of $250 was raised from the sale.