Mrs. Januka Baigai speaks at IDEA’s First Women’s Empowerment Workshop in Nepal Nevis Mary, India,  Participating in pre-congress workshop "Stigma Identity & Human Rights" in Hyderabad, IndiaParwati Oli, Nepal, Zilda Borges, Brazil, & Alhaji Shehu S/Fada, Nigeria, Participate in pre-congress workshop "Stigma Identity & Human Rights" in Hyderabad, India Ngoma Ngoma, D. R. Congo, Visits with Children in a Leprosy Village outside Hyderabad, IndiaTien Pei Lee (IDEA Taiwan) greets Abakar Adam Mohammed (IDEA Sudan) at the 17th International Leprosy Congress in Hyderabad, India.  Also pictured is Alfred Muzee Aquilino.  Photo by Pam Parlapiano William Malo Participating in "Stigma, Identity and Human Rights" Conference, Robben Island, South Africa

About IDEA

IDEA Banner of Honor is displayed at the African Leprosy Congress, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2005. Photo by Henry Law

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“We want to be a part of the process, to be in a position to help others as well as ourselves . . . . A Quest for Dignity.”

-- Bernard K. Punikai’a, President Emeritus, IDEA

IDEA is the first international advocacy organization whose leadership is primarily made up of individuals who have personally faced the challenges of leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease. Established in 1994, IDEA has 20,000 members in more than 30 countries, spanning five continents. IDEA has branches in 19 countries Angola, Brazil, P.R. China, D.R. Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Japan, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, South Korea, Sudan, Taiwan and the U.S.A.

IDEA is dedicated to the principle that individuals whose lives have been challenged by leprosy, have the right to full and equal participation in society, including the right to equal justice, equal opportunity, and equal dignity without discrimination.

“We work hard for our place in society. Together we can work for equal rights and justice. All over the world we have the right to be equal citizens.”

-- Zilda Borges, Brazil, Coordinator, IDEA Women’s Opportunity Program

IDEA promotes dignified terminology that recognizes individuality and refers to people by their names. IDEA rejects hurtful words, stereotypes, and labels like “leper”, “Hansenite”, “PAL”, and similar terms in local languages. IDEA also opposes labeling a person as a “patient” after they are cured or are outside of the medical setting.

“In confronting discrimination and exclusion, we will take on an attitude that we will help to change human relations. The discrimination can be in our hearts and in the hearts of others. Discrimination is a personal and social pain. We want to help to cure this pain.”

-- IDEA Mozambique Declaration

In 2000, IDEA received the Award Raoul Follereau, which is presented by the Associazione Italiana Amici di Raoul Follereau to those persons or communities that have been promoters of change, transforming ideals and values into energy, action, and experiences.

IDEA’s most valuable resource is the wisdom, achievements and inspiring words of  individuals around the world, who have turned a diagnosis of leprosy into a personal challenge and ultimately a personal victory. Individual and collective triumphs over prejudice and deep personal loss work together to defy stereotypes, restore human rights and challenge the historical stigma that has no place in modern society.

“Through our efforts to eliminate prejudice, to win recognition from society, to request the rights of education, work and livelihood, which are inherent in every human being, we will work to create a world for of hope, understanding and peace.”

-- Liang Zhao Lun, IDEA China/Handa

Liang Zhao Lun, China, Opening Ceremony, Fifth International Day of Dignity & Respect. Photo by Henry Law
Zilda Borges conducting a Womens Empowerment Workshop in Brazil. Photo by Pam Parlapiano