This statement from Albert Schweitzer is the guiding principle of Shanti Leprahilfe. This statement is especially meaningful for people in Nepal, because leprosy sufferers and people with disabilities are rejected from society in the Hindu religion. Sickness and all kinds of disability – even those due to infections or accidents – are considered the punishment of the gods. Those who come into contact with, care for or house these people obtain bad karma themselves – thus creating negative influences for their next reincarnation. The result of this is that many people are expelled from their families as babies or small children, and must eke out their living as beggars under undignified conditions. This excludes them from a life amongst lives.
The mission of Shanti Leprahilfe Dortmund e.V. is to provide the financial means necessary to help these people find their place in society. The partner organisation in Kathmandu, Shanti Sewa Griha, can provide the local work necessary thanks to the funds primarily raised in Germany.
As difficult as this work sometimes is, we draw so much strength from it. This is embodied in the statement from Stéphane Hessel in his call to “Get Involved!” from July 2011:
"The actual challenge is to overcome hopelessness. Yes, our earth is also threatened by resignation: 'Too late, everything's botched, nothing more can be done, we are lost.' However, we have also experienced some difficult problems that we were able to champion. Why shouldn't a good solution be found today for something that appears to be hopeless?"
Leprosy is an especially large problem still today. Even those who received medical attention and are cured of the illness are often left physically impaired – most of them are missing portions of fingers, toes and sometimes their entire nose.
Due to their appearance and the disabilities associated with the loss of their digits, these people are often especially in need of assistance. These are the people who find a home with Shanti Leprahilfe, where their basic needs can be met. They receive sufficient, nutritious food, clean drinking water, a qualified education and a meaningful place within human society.
One of Shanti's main goals is to support children in thinking creatively and socially and leading responsible lives. An important aid here is Waldorf pedagogy, which is used in both the kindergarten as well as the school.
Volunteers both young and young at heart come from around the world to volunteer with Shanti for several weeks or months to help with the aid work in Nepal: in the clinic, kindergarten, school or with employment programmes.