Fashion fraternity join hands to help leprosy-affected

February 1st, 2009 - 11:12 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) They want to do more than just attend fashion weeks and parties and instead utilise their talent for a good cause. A number of veteran fashion designers have therefore joined hands with an NGO working for leprosy patients.One of the country’s leading fashion designers, Ritu Kumar, is part of the fraternity to have joined the NGO Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation (SILF) to help improvise the products made by the leprosy patients and design some, so that more funds can be generated for the welfare of the leprosy-affected.

“SILF already markets some products, which are mostly woolen and woven fabrics, and the proceeds go towards the welfare of the people they work for. What I am looking at is to improvise those products and help them sell better, using my experience,” Kumar told IANS on the sidelines of an event organised by SILF.

The main objective of SILF is to eliminate the stigma against leprosy-affected people.

“Quite often, people discriminate against those who have been affected by leprosy, in spite of them being cured of the disease. They are turned away from jobs and are left with little choice other than going to the streets and begging,” said Vineeta Shankar, director of SILF.

“Our mission therefore is to remove this stigma and help rehabilitate such people and their families,” she added.

A number of fashion designers like Kumar, Leena Singh of the well-known Ashima-Leena brand duo, and Rathi Vinay Jha, the former director general of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), have come forward to support the endeavour.

Kumar said: “It’s just that after all these years of organising fashion shows and being amid all that buzz, I now want to do something more for society and this is a way of doing that.”

Leena Singh also said that designing products for the NGO is her way of giving back something to society.

“We have designed so many clothes for celebrities and movie stars, and if now I can use my talent to help the less privileged, then why not?

“This is a brilliant initiative which helps all those people who, despite being cured of a disease, continue to face discrimination. It is even supported by the Delhi government,” Singh told IANS.

The designers are however yet to get down to do some real work.

“We were supposed to have a meeting with the NGO members but that did not take place for some reason. But now we will meet to dicuss all the nitty-gritties,” Jha said.

Over the last decade, more than 11 million people have been cured of leprosy in India, but most still face discrimination.

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