Association of People Affected by Leprosy
Formation of an organization of the people and by the people affected by leprosy
Association of People affected by Leprosy (APAL) earlier known as National Forum-is a national networking organization of people affected by leprosy, founded in the year 2006 with active encouragement and help from the Nippon Foundation, Japan. It forms an essential part of Mr. Sasakawa’s vision of mainstreaming the affected population and their families in restoring their dignity.
This organisation was first chaired by Dr. P.K. Gopal and few years ago this important responsibility was taken over by Mr. Narsappa who is currently based in Hyderabad. During their initial years through a very rudimentary survey APAL found out that there are approximately 800 self settled colonies across the country and they focus their work in these listed colonies.
APAL gives a platform where people affected by leprosy can discuss their issues and take up tmatters relating to their rights and entitlements at various levels such as in State Govt offices or even at the Central level if required. For eg issues pertaining to their land rights, pensions, specific schemes for disabled people, human rights issues, education & employment, housing sanitation etc.
Currently APAL has their head office in Hyderabad and the leaders (both nominated & elected depending upon the need & situation) have their respective state forum teams to address the issues of their communities.
These small forums/ bodies help the community people to get connected & interact with the mainstream society in accessing services & resources from Govt or civil society.
SILF again a brainchild of Mr. Sasakawa was set up to provide support (through financial support & capacity development) the people affected from leprosy background particularly to leprosy colonies listed & endorsed by APAL. Mr. Sasakawa felt that SILF can support this community by bridging the gap of lack of access to financial, technical & educational resources which are highly essential factors contributing towards mainstreaming. SILF primarily focuses on providing support to people who need it and show interest in starting their own independent micro enterprise. SILF also has started supporting the students from this background in pursuing vocational/ skill development courses.
SILF works with State/ Regional Leaders of APAL to identify the potential colonies/ beneficiaries in need of support and takes their help in facilitating the development, implementation & monitoring of the livelihood projects and now also for our education & advocacy programs.
In the initial years SILF did face many challenges while working with APAL because of certain reasons such as-
- Poor Leadership at regional & grass root level
- Lack of Motivation/ Role Models for the community to follow
- Internal Dynamics
- Poor Acceptance of SILF at colony/ community level
Earlier we were introduced to the colonies with the help of Regional or State APAL Leaders. However gradually over the period of time SILF started involving APAL at various levels of program process in both our program verticals- Livelihood & Education. This has strengthened our relationship with APAL and has also helped in creating better understanding & trust factors for both the bodies.
There has been good progress in our relationship with APAL because we have some leaders have immensely helped us (in some areas) in flagging off the real concerns/ challenges during program implementation. Therefore keeping this in view, SILF has started appointing few of such Leaders as Mentors/ Facilitators for implementing our livelihood projects.
SILF takes care of the efforts put by the State Leaders in implementing the livelihood projects by paying them 5% of the project cost as reimbursements for their field expenses.
For State Leaders who work as Mentors in certain areas of SILF’s project locations, they are paid 15- 20% of the project cost during the entire implementation phase.