At 64 years old, learning to read and write was a dream come true for Kaavya. The double curse of leprosy and illiteracy had set her life on a path of rejection and loneliness.
Kaavya first felt the weight of this curse when, as a little girl, her father contracted leprosy—a curable disease that still carries a stigma in many developing countries where treatment is inaccessible to the poorer population. The pronouncement of “leprosy” branded her father, and the community ostracized her family—convinced the dreaded disease was a punishment for sin.
Already mourning her loss of community, Kaavya’s heart crumbled to pieces when her father passed away. While the emotional ache still throbbed, Kaavya experienced the physical strain of fever and pain in her extremities. Going to the hospital for these symptoms, Kaavya received the crushing news: She had leprosy too.
“It was the worst day and saddest day in my life,” Kaavya shared. “What to do? I could not die.”
Kaavya continued to struggle in life. She got a job at a hospital, but then, after 22 years, she was let go because she was an illiterate village lady, unqualified in the eyes of the current hospital staff. She then married and settled into family life. A few years into her marriage, however, she found out her husband had a previous family. He had only married her because his first wife bore eight girls, and he wanted Kaavya to bear him a son.
Learn more about the Tragedy and Discrimination Widows Face Worldwide
Learn more about the Leprosy Ministry – bringing love, dignity and healing to the rejected
Read how the ministry of GFA-supported Sisters of Compassion is bringing restoration and healing to others affected by leprosy.