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Teresa spurs school dropout to help diffabled with leprosy 

Vellore: Manimaran is on a less traveled path.

Every day, the 31-year-old youth goes to the streets carrying on his shoulder a bag filled with first aid materials, blankets, sarees, dhotis, towels and bedspreads. As soon as he spots a leprosy patient with physical disabilities he stops there and attends to the person — bandage wounds and provide food and meet other needs.

Born in a farmer family in Thalaiyampallam, a village near Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, the school dropout says the motivation came from his father who had sent him to a Missionaries of Charity center in Kolkata. “I was inspired by my father. He taught me to learn the art of tolerance,” Manimaran recalled.

In Kolkata, he learnt about compassion, human values and attitude to serve. He was later sent to Tirupur, where his elder brother was employed in the textile industry. This was the time he came across differently abled leprosy patients and their struggles to survive.

He began to reach out to them and started cleaning them up, offering them both food and comfort. He also took them to hospitals for first aid. When he came to Karigiri hospital near Vellore, he learnt to work with persons cured of leprosy.

Today, he is on his own, extending care and support to the leprosy afflicted, thus emerging as their ‘god son’. He purchases cotton inner garments from Tirupur and sells them in northern India. In turn, he brings kurta and other garments made in northern India and sells them in the south.

“I make some money, part of which I give to my family. The rest is spent on travel to attend to people with leprosy,” he said.

In the past 10 years, he has rescued around 500 from streets in various cities and admitted them in hospitals for care.

“In Vellore, I was able to identify around 95 people with leprosy in the last two days… Eight of them had ulcers, on which I have applied medicines,” said Manimaran. He spends time talking to them to ensure them of all help. He also makes it a point to give them his mobile number.

“Abandoned people give us opportunity to help,” he noted. His noble work for the past 10 years has earned him many accolades, including the Chief Minister’s State Youth Award in 2015 and the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities the same year.

Manimaran, who has devoted his life to social service, wants to remain single to continue with his efforts. He also strives to dispel fears about leprosy, while demonstrating how those afflicting with it could be rehabilitated. He has plans to establish his own ashram, where he wants to rehabilitate persons with leprosy.

To realize his dream, he is looking for help and support from corporate houses and philanthropists.

(Source: The New Indian Express)

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