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Baba Amte

Like Gandhiji many sensitive men and women felt that more than medicines, it was the solid rehabilitation of leprosy patients that would help them recover not only health but also dignity and self respect.

One such man, who decided to dedicate himself to this cause was Murlidhar Devidas Amte, better known as Baba Amte. Born on 26th December 1914 in Maharashtra, Amte grew up at a time when Indians were resisting British rule. He too joined the freedom struggle and went to jail for civil disobedience. He became a disciple of Gandhiji and decided to fight the fear of leprosy -it is for this reason that Gandhiji gave him the title of Abhaysadhak.

Baba Amte first took a course on care of leprosy patients. Then he decided to settle down in Chandrapur, Maharashtra. Here he acquired two hundred and fifty acres of land. His Ashram became a home for the destitute and homeless, many of whom were leprosy patients. Many of them, who had been cured, had lost their fingers, hands, toes or feet and could not go back to their earlier professions because they were disabled. Baba Amte helped each one of them to acquire skills, despite their handicap. These people under Baba Amte's guidance transformed this rocky and barren land into a model farm. This farm now produces vegetables and dairy products for neighboring villages and is economically self sufficient. But most important of all, it is a place which has become an 'Abode of Joy' or 'Anandvan'.

Vasudha Pande