Vocational Training Centres
The Leprosy Mission Canada supports the Vizianagaram Vocational Training Centre (VTC). This VTC supports and encourages youth between the ages of 15 and 25 who are cured of leprosy, are from leprosy-affected families or have other physical disabilities to gain vocational skills. One of the greatest challenges facing those with leprosy is the need to earn a living. The stigma associated with leprosy and a lack of skills make getting a job very difficult for those with leprosy or who have family members with leprosy.
Aside from The Leprosy Mission's training centres, no other institutions exist to help provide skill training for leprosy affected persons. Without training there is little hope of finding work or planning a secure future. Increasing their socio-economic status improves overall quality of life and gives people a way to provide for their families. The Leprosy Mission Canada is committed to helping those affected by leprosy to find meaningful work and a future beyond leprosy.
The Leprosy Mission Canada believes that a student has completed their VTC training only after the student has received a placement in an appropriately paid, stable job in a reputable industry in the local area. Government apprenticeships are also sought out for the graduates.
Courses at VTCs range in length from 3 months to 1 year. Courses are offered in such skills such as welding, diesel mechanics, dress making, electronics, refrigeration, and carpentry, plus many others. Also, students may be taught how to work a cycle rickshaw or be proficient as an office assistant.
At Vizianagarm, the VTC also offers 2 other programs:
- Most workers in Vizianagaram region rely on crop farming and fishing for their livelihood
- Of the Vizianagaram district's 2 million people, 80% live in rural areas
- Poor public hygiene is widespread - many households lack sanitation facilities
- More than half of Vizianagaram residents lack basic reading skills
- Leprosy-affected young people need vocational training to raise the standard of living for themselves and their families
- There are TLM VTCs in many different regions of India
Priti is a 20 year old student in computer training at VTC Nashik. She grew up in a small village in Maharashtra State. She has one older sister and one older brother and her parents are farmers.
While at the doctor for a regular check-up, Priti was told that she had leprosy. At first, she refused to take medication or tell anyone about the diagnosis. She didn’t really know what leprosy was, so for a year after being diagnosed, she would not take any medication for it.
Eventually her mother discovered she had leprosy and told Priti that she should start taking Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) in order to be cured. Priti then started taking the medication.
Priti was ashamed of telling her family that she has leprosy. In fact, she still has not told her brother because she is afraid of his reaction.
Her mother and brother-in-law encouraged her to study at Nashik Vocational Training Centre so that she can find a job, be independent and support herself.
Priti is very self-conscious. Even though she knows her family cares for her, and is willing to have her live with them, she wants to live alone. She enjoys the VTC but says that her heart is upset because she has leprosy.
Through the work of the Leprosy Mission’s Vocation Training Centres, young women with leprosy like Priti are taught that they are beautiful, beloved children of God and are given the skills that they need to become independent, self-supporting members of their communities.