24 January, 2021

Where Can Meets Able

Here, cured leprosy patients get a vocation and a new life

Apoorva Guptay
Where Can Meets Able

Vimal Chaandane was just 11 when she ran away from home. She was too young to know what the lesions on her skin meant, but old enough to know they had made her an object of revulsion, even in her own family. "I tried taking pills to kill myself," she recalls. "It hurt to live like an outcast." She eventually ended up at the Kondhwa Leprosy Hospital on Pune's outskirts.

That was nearly three decades ago. Today, as she defies her mutilated fingers to operate the deburring machine at a factory not far from the hospital where she was cured, the illiterate 40-year-old widow exudes confidence. Both her daughters go to college, while her son is busy preparing for his Class 10 board exams. And when relatives who once shunned her come calling at her well-appointed 500 sq ft apartment, her eyes can't help shimmering with pride.

What's transformed Chaandane's life is the sense of purpose and control over her future that she shares with her 98 male and 12 female colleagues at the factory. They're all members—and owners—of the Dr Minoo...



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