Visiting India after a two year break, Louise Timmins was delighted to find the number of children now living in the homes supported by the two charities that are close to her heart had more than doubled.
“Of course, it is tragic that so many young people are in need of help,” said Louise. “But knowing that they had a place to go where they can get support was comforting.”
Louise, 40, is a partnerships manager with The Leprosy Mission England and Wales – a charity that provides treatment and support for people affected by the disease.
It was on one of her trips to India with the charity that she came across Brighter Future – a small charity based in Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, south India. It looks after children with leprosy, HIV widows and orphans and people with disabilities.
The children are mostly orphaned or abandoned and found living rough on railway stations and tracks.
Louise said: “When I visited the charity I was so impressed by their work that I came back and told my colleagues. And the Leprosy Mission decided to fund their Rainbow Children’s home where the kids affected by leprosy are provided shelter and education.”
Touched by the plight of the children and the widows and orphans of men who were HIV positive, the mum of two, from Dyke, decided to get involved with the charity which, at the time, had 90 children in its care. Now it has almost 200.
She now heads up Brighter Future’s UK Arm which is staffed entirely by volunteers who raise money for the charity – as well as working for Peterborough-based Leprosy Mission.
Louise said: “We take so much for granted, a home, food on the table and medicines when we are ill. The people who came to the charity seeking help have nothing. The charity is their last hope.”
Among the people Louise met during her visit to India in December was Padma, an HIV positive widow, who arrived with her four year old son Vennai.
Louise said: “She told us her husband was HIV positive and had died recently. It was obvious that she too was HIV positive. Weeping silently she picked up her pallu (scarf end of the sari) and unwrapped a rag to reveal a tiny baby. He was 16-days-old and little more than skin and bones.
“When her husband died her landlord threw the family out because they could not pay the rent.
“The young mother had been sleeping rough and had come to the charity after hearing about the food parcels of rice, lentils, oil and milk powder (which cost just £6) that it gives to out every month. She wanted food for Vennai.”
The charity also works with adults who are affected by leprosy who live in small colonies away from the towns.
For more information go to www.brighterfutureinternationaltrust.co.uk and www.leprosymission.org.uk