The plights of young people from leprosy-affected communities is undoubtedly one of the most psychologically traumatizing experiences one can have. Faced with extreme poverty, joblessness, discrimination, hunger, health challenges, lack of education, unemployment and homelessness that comes with the conditions of their birth; the youths in most communities of people affected by leprosy find it difficult to live meaningful lives compared to their counterparts from families that are more fortunate. As a result, they take to vices such as armed robbery, drug abuse, rape, kidnapping, killing, thuggery and other social vices to earn a living.
This was almost the case of Suleiman Yusuf, a 36 years young man born to leprosy-affected parents in Amanawa community but for an intervention by The Leprosy Mission Nigeria and its partners.
According to Suleiman,
“I was born by parents with very severe grade two disabilities caused by leprosy. My parents both begged for a living, because both of them lost their fingers and were incapable of working on farms. I was still struggling to gain admission into a secondary school when my father died. The pain of his demise affected my mother’s health and shortly after his passing, she fell ill. Left with an ailing mother and my struggle to get into secondary school, I decided to get a job. However, combining schooling and working as a bricklayer was quite tough as my workstation was 3 kilometers away from my village. This drastically affected my academics, and when I could not pass the school certificate, exam I was thrown out of school. I was very frustrated and began contemplating suicide, I thought perhaps if I kill myself I will not have to face the harsh conditions life threw at me.
One faithful day, a friend invited me to hang out with him at a drug joint, and I was on my way to keep the appointment, when I encountered the team from The Leprosy Mission Nigeria. They were addressing a group of men and women in the community, and for some reason I stopped by to listen. It was there I learnt of a vocational training that would hold the next day, I signified interest and at no cost, I was selected as one of the participants of the training where we were taught marketing skills, resource mobilization and simple book keeping skills. After the training we all received an allowance (N5, 000) and with that, I started a sheep, ram and goat business. I fed and groomed the animals and when I sold them, I made up to N70, 000 which I used to set up a mini shop in the community.
Today, I make N3,000–4,000 daily and with this I comfortably take care of my family. I am so grateful to TLM-Nigeria and her partners who God used to transform my life.