Young people encouraged to campaign for human rights

The Leprosy Mission is looking for two young people to travel to India and act as human rights advocates.

The charity is offering the all expenses paid trip to two people between the ages of 18 and 25 who have a passion to speak up for people affected by leprosy.

They will spend 10 days immersing themselves in Indian culture, including making a visit to the iconic Taj Mahal, and meeting people marginalised as a result of leprosy.

The people they meet will not only have battled the disease but may also have been left disabled and pushed to the fringes of society due to the age-old stigma surrounding leprosy.

The two chosen ambassadors will spend time getting to know people affected by the condition before returning to the UK where they will continue to be advocates for them and others with the condition.

Once back in the UK, the ambassadors will network among their peers and lobby influential people in person and through social media as part of the Mission's wider campaign to overturn outdated laws. Existing laws in India mean that leprosy remain grounds for divorce and people affected by the disease are often denied a driving licence or prevented from travelling by train.

Hana Hill, competition organiser and advocacy intern for The Leprosy Mission said: "This is a unique opportunity for a young person with a passion for international development, championing social justice or a young journalist striving for a powerful story to tell.

"We expect the competition to generate a great deal of interest so will be hosting a day inspired by the BBC's The Apprentice for the young people to meet one another and take part in an exciting team challenge as part of the selection process.

"There will be a great sense of camaraderie as we work towards changing the lives of some of the world's poorest and most discriminated against people for the better. Without wishing to sound too clichéd, it really is the trip of a lifetime up for grabs."

Sian Arulanantham, The Leprosy Mission's Head of Programmes Coordination, said working in India presented a unique set of challenges.

She said: "In the UK we are currently fighting the myth that India is rich enough to solve its own problems.

"But with the country remaining home to a third of the world's poor and more than half of the world's new cases of leprosy being diagnosed in India, compassion dictates that we cannot abandon these people with desperate needs.

"It is also a country where unfounded stigma surrounding leprosy prevails.

"Through sheer hard work we are making progress with the Indian government and are raising awareness through the Indian media that leprosy is a treatable disease and not a life-long label. We have, however, a long way to go.

"Often people in the UK are unaware that leprosy remains a real problem in the developing world. By young people advocating on behalf of those affected by the disease in India, it helps drives global awareness of the problem that can only improve the lives of people currently living an extremely difficult existence."

To find out more or download an application form, visit www.leprosymission.org.uk Completed application forms should be returned to The Leprosy Mission by Thursday 31 January 2013 ahead of the 'Apprentice-style' assessment day which will take place at our Peterborough office on Saturday 16 February. The two winners will travel to India for 10 days in April 2013.

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