Gandhi Journal Article-II (February 2016)
Gandhi, Parchure and Stigma of leprosy
By Pragji Dosa
During his Satyagraha campaign in South Africa, Gandhiji was addressing a gathering at Natal on the occasion of the founding of the Indian Congress. He noticed a few people standing at a distance under a tree listening to him intently. In spite of his beckoning them to come forward and join the crowd, they did not come. So Gandhi decided to go to them. As he started walking towards them, one of them cried out, “Gandhibhai, do not come near us, we are lepers.” Even after hearing this, Gandhi went to meet them. Some of them had lost their fingers, some their toes, some had no hair left of their heads. Gandhi asked them about the treatment they were receiving for their ailments. Their answer shocked Gandhi. They said, “No doctor was willing to treat us, we treat ourselves with the juice of bitter neem.” When asked if that was helping, they replied in the negative and said they were dying a slow death.
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