29 January 2017
Omar Sow is 55 years old and lives on the streets of Dakar, alongside 60 other people suffering from leprosy. Prior to getting sick in 1973, Omar used to work in agriculture in his hometown of Tivaouane, located at 80 km from the capital city of Senegal. Because of the disability caused by his illness, Omar was no longer able to work in the crop fields and moved to Dakar to try and make ends meet. In 1987, he was able to get treated and is disease free today.
Leprosy is curable with multi drug therapy (MDT) and treatment provided in the early stages averts disability. Today, Omar still lives in the streets as he has not been able to find a job because of his disability and because of the stigma associated to it. Omar’s faith continues to allow him to dream that he will be able to find a job caring for chickens in order to provide for his 14 years old son who is still in school as his disability no longer allows him to work with his hands.
In the meanwhile, Omar continues to advocate for people living with the disease by participating as much as he can in awareness raising activities led by local NGOs. His end goal is to actively contribute to the disease elimination while reducing the stigma associated with Leprosy. He strives for his community to know that Leprosy is a curable disease and that one can still aspire living a decent and dignified life after treatment.