2008 Finalist Projects

A Chance to Grow

Shanti Sewa Griha - Nepal

Shanti Sewa Griha is a self-sufficient society for leprosy victims and other social outcasts.

Nepal is one of the few countries in the world where people still get leprosy. Effective treatments exist. But fear of the disease runs so deep that victims are often shunned even after they've been cured. Most end up as beggars around the country's temples - though even here they are often ostracised by other beggars.

Shanti Sewa Griha - meaning "Peace, Help and Home" in Nepali - was set up to help the beggars around one of the biggest temples in the capital Kathmandu. "We started with 13 leprosy affected people back in 1992," remembers Krishna Gurung, one of Shanti's founders. "Now we have altogether over a thousand people."

As well as medical care, Shanti also offers employment through tailoring, handicrafts and organic gardening. Even the most severely disabled are given some useful role. "It's about finding the talents that are hidden in them," says Krishna. "We have a badly maimed person but he can hold one device - he is making all the staircases, and he's doing a beautiful job." Shanti Sewa Griha has recently opened a new site outside the city. Building on the self-sufficient, village-like ethos of the original centre, the new site incorporates workshops, a school and a free health clinic.

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