Several books of testimonials by people affected by leprosy have been published in different countries with the support of Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation. Dignity Regained II returns to India, where the series began in 2005, with the stories of 13 individuals whose lives were transformed by the disease.
Many of the accounts follow a similar trajectory: a happy childhood blighted by a diagnosis of leprosy; rejection; despair; treatment and cure; and 'dignity regained' through work, marriage, a determination to succeed, a settled home life and the support of others.
Along the way there are reflections on suicide contemplated and attempted; on resorting to grain smuggling and the illicit liquor business to survive; and on the shame of begging.
Perhaps hardest to bear is leprosy's impact on family relations. As Goswami Tribhuwan Giri tells his interviewer, "I was isolated in my own house. I was dejected, and was all alone among my own parents, brothers and sisters. They never cared [for] my feelings."
In the end, everyone featured in this book finds a way forward in life. Mangilal Chouhan wants the same for all people affected by leprosy: "The endless sky is open before us, it is up to us how high we can fly."