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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy

REPORT: Breaking Down Barriers

Leprosy and Human Dignity project looks to bring about positive change.

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Scene from the opening ceremony of the Cambodia workshop (top); in the offices of Support Children Young (SCY) in Phnom Penh (above)

Leprosy and Human Dignity-Southeast Asia (LHD-SA) is an initiative that aims to create a society in which people affected by leprosy are able to lead a dignified life in an equitable and inclusive environment.

Supported by The Nippon Foundation, its main activity is to invite and fund proposals from NGOs that help to achieve this objective. In particular, it is interested in projects that sensitize society, promote networks of people affected by leprosy and help build partnerships with different sectors.

With a Regional Coordination Office in Jakarta, LHD-SA covers Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. Program director Adi Yosep has personally experienced leprosy.

In 2011, the first three projects were approved: one in Cambodia and two in Indonesia. The project in Cambodia was implemented by Support Children Young (SCY), a Phnom Penh-based NGO that gives Cambodian young people the opportunity to participate in media advocacy. With its grant, SCY created radio and TV spots to disseminate information about leprosy. The head of the country's leprosy elimination program, Dr. Lai Ky, featured in these broadcasts.

The two projects in Indonesia also focused on awareness building. One was run by the School for Broadcast Media, and the other was a collaboration between PerMaTa (an organization of people affected by leprosy) and the country's National Human Rights Commission.

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Lak Kiri (pictured with her son) was a speaker at the Phnom Penh workshop.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

Prior to applications for 2012 grants being accepted, two workshops were held in Phnom Penh (February 28) and Hanoi (March 1) to publicize the initiative and answer questions. Around 150 people attended the two workshops, including NGO representatives, government officials and journalists. Also invited were people affected by leprosy, who spoke about their experiences with the disease and the challenges they faced. This gave participants the opportunity to hear real-life stories at first hand and discuss what could be done to reduce stigma and discrimination. Many of them were encouraged to submit proposals.

At the Cambodia workshop, a representative of one of last year's grant recipients talked about the project his organization had run. SCY's executive director, Sophal Kann, said the broadcasts on leprosy had generated a considerable response from the public, who were interested in such questions as whether the disease is hereditary and how infection occurs. Noting that some radio listeners expressed the view they would not want to live next door to a person with leprosy, Sophal Kann said the experience had made him aware of the need for the public to be better educated about leprosy. He said he hoped to have further opportunities to continue this effort.

NON-LEPROSY NGOs

LHD-SA welcomes applications not only from NGOs that already work in leprosy but also from those with experience of working in other fields such as the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities.

For those NGOs without direct experience of leprosy, LHD-SA's program director Adi Yosep recommended that they approach the health ministry or an organization of people affected by leprosy to discuss their ideas and for help in formulating a proposal.

Further information about the Leprosy and Human Dignity Project can be obtained by contacting the LHD-SA Regional Office.*

FOOTNOTE

*Taman Semanan Indah, Blok E1 No. 75, Cengkareng, West Jakarta, Indonesia.
Tel / Fax: (+62) 21 54374207
www.return2humandignity.org/