We loved road trips with our grandparents. In the later 1970's, what entertained us was the rolling terrain from state to state, the foods stalls and cuisine changing every couple of hours, colorful clothes.
Few times we stayed at a peaceful place called "Tapovan". As a pre-teen, little did I realize the gravity of its purpose and instead enjoyed the green surroundings and meeting smiling and kind folks including kids and my grandfather's cousin, Dajisaheb Patwardhan. His goal for establishing Tapovan was to provide to leprosy treated people a life of dignity and self-reliance.
Leprosy if left untreated can cause disfigurement. Medicines can cure leprosy and makes the patient non-contagious. However, the fear and stigma ostracized them from community and family!
Tapovan's large area included farms where they grew their own food, loomed and sewed own clothes, sent their kids to school right on that campus. Not just that, there were workshops to teach carpentry, electrical, metal-smithing, rug weaving, and eventually they started to earn a living by selling products to state government and NGOs. Dajisaheb was awarded India's highest honor, Padmashree. In 1984, Tapovan management transferred to the Maharashtra state government.
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