This is Indrakhala. She lives in the beautiful country of Nepal. She has her home next to the mud homes of her extended family.[1]

Yet the key word here is ‘next to’.  In this photo she gently smiles, but, in reality, her life is far from beautiful. Years ago, she was forced to stay in a shelter made out of mud and bamboo leaning on the wall of the animal shed. Her family would hit her if she even tries to go near them. The only food she was allowed was from her mother, and it is little more than the leftovers from the meal the family enjoyed together without her. She shares this with animals.

She has done nothing to hurt her family. She has never insulted or done anything to bring them shame.

Her only ‘crime’ was to contract leprosy.

The medicines, MDT (Multi-Drug Therapy), which can completely cure Indrakhala and help to end her progressing disability.

Without care or treatment, the bacteria gradually damaged the nerves in her legs, meaning she can no longer lift her feet to walk properly. Her lack of sensation means that her feet are constantly at risk from severe damage as they are dragged across the floor. Leprosy has also damaged the nerves of her hands, causing them to become claw-like and making it almost impossible to do daily tasks with. The condition did not even spare her face: the muscles she needs to blink are now partially paralysed. Each night she must endure the nightmare of having to cover them herself, and she could lose her sight as a result of their unprotected exposure to dust, grit and insects.

Many of us, accustomed to a Western lifestyle can barely even conceive of what this lady, only in her 30s, had to endure. We complain when our phone runs out of battery in the middle of a conversation. She would have been glad to even talk to someone in the first place. One wonders what she would make of today, the International Day of Happiness, which the UN instituted to work for the “happiness and the well-being of all peoples”.[2]

What would make you happy? The latest iPhone? A greater bank balance to look forward to next month? That piece of clothing that simply cries out to be worn?

Indrakhala, like any of us, longs for happiness. It would be so simple. She longs for freedom from the grip of leprosy that enslaves her. She longs for a family who would once again accept her. She simply longs for love.

A simple, low-cost tendon transfer surgery would give Indrakhala back the use of her hands.

The Day of Happiness is not about me, or you. It is about ‘us’, where ‘us’ includes every man, woman and child in the entire world. It is an opportunity to take the often simple actions of compassion to bring hope and happiness to people in greatest need. A simple course of antibiotics would completely cure Indrakhala. Surgery can restore her feet, hands and eyes for little price. Sandals to protect her feet once they have recovered cost less than a pizza (€2.50 a pair).

We have so much potential and influence to make a difference. Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of all is how often we fail to use this.

Please help the Leprosy Mission Ireland, who bring care and cure to people like Indrakhala, to influence world health policy to work to end her needless suffering. Please take just a few minutes to sign the petition.