Hopegivers to Build First 'City' for Lepers in India

Hopegivers will build the first ever “city” for lepers in New Delhi, India, as part of its efforts to help children stay close their infected parents while protecting their health.

Hopegivers International, a ministry that has leprosy outreaches since 1977, will build a center for lepers that will be a “model city within a city,” with six cottage industries and micro-enterprises to provide lepers a source of income. Micro-enterprises involve farming and landscaping, poultry raising, weaving, candle-making, shoe-making and shirt-making.

“This will not be an old fashioned leper colony,” Dr. Samuel Thomas, president of Hopegivers, said in a released statement. “Our purpose is to create an environment where these despised and feared people will have dignity and be able to face the future without fear.”

In addition to micro-enterprises in the “city,” Hope Center for Lepers will also include 250 homes, a community center and church, counseling center, a grade school and high school, a clinic, shops and factory workshops. The school and workshop are like other Hope Centers outside of the Center for Lepers.

“The key to a leper’s heart is his or her children. They want their children to have a future and by having a school and children’s dorms we can have the children close by yet prevent their infection,” Thomas said.

“There are currently 4.5 million victims of leprosy in India. The only way to stop the cycle of leprosy is to teach the children health and hygiene, and a key part of that is to keep a healthy distance between them and their infected parents without totally separating them.”

Hopegivers has nationally recognized leprosy outreach programs in Bombay, Chennai (Madras), Delhi, Harayana and Tamil Nadu, operating 20 leprosy colony outreaches in the capital alone.

The ministry will begin construction of Hope Center for Lepers as soon as they have the needed funds to purchase the property and construct the buildings. Bill Bray, communications director at Hopegivers, estimates that the initial needed cost is $425,000.

Hopegivers was founded by Dr. Samuel Thomas’ father, Bishop M.A. Thomas. The first orphanage began in 1977 with eight children. Now more than 40 years later, the ministry has expanded to include the establishment of 87 orphanages, 53 medical clinics, 190 schools with 88,000 students and more than 500 leper colonies among others. Hopegivers mainly work with the Dalits and outcasts in India.