About Udayan

Udayan is a home for the rehabilitation of children of leprosy sufferers in Barrackpore, a lush suburb of Calcutta (Kolkata), India. In Bengali, Udayan means ‘dawn’ or ‘resurrection’ and for the boys and girls there, Udayan does indeed represent the dawn of a new life.

In March 1970 an Englishman, James Stevens, borrowed a truck from Mother Teresa and set out into the Kolkata slums to rescue some of the children of leprosy sufferers. On that first night James Stevens took back to Udayan a mere eleven children. Today Udayan provides for the needs of some 320 boys and girls.

The First Eleven Children

All the children at Udayan have been affected by leprosy in some way. Most were born in leper colonies and have parents who suffer from the disease. About 5% of the children have leprosy themselves. Many of them suffer from worm infestations, tuberculosis, malaria, amoebiasis, rickets and other diseases associated with poverty and malnutrition. With intensive medical treatment and a high-vitamin diet many of these children can be completely cured in just six months.

The children of Udayan

Udayan supplies this medical care and nutrition. It also provides the children with accommodation in an environment free of the stigma still associated with leprosy in India. They are given an education in both Bengali and Hindi. They have access to a library and to recreational facilities. They have the opportunity to play cricket, learn yoga, dance or play a musical instrument. They are also given vocational training. Mechanical engineering, computer skills, poultry farming, tailoring, batik, embroidery and pisciculture are just some of their options. The aim is that when the children leave Udayan they do so with the education, skills and self-confidence necessary to support their own families and become full members of society.

A map of Udayan drawn by the staff and students of Udayan