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Meridian is partnering with Rising Star Outreach to build a school for the children of the leprosy-affected in Bihar, India. We are hoping to raise $200,000 which will be matched by another $200,000 by an anonymous donor. So far our generous Meridian readers have come more than 80% of the way by raising more than $160,000. But we need more to build the elementary school. If you haven’t donated, will you? We really need you. Donations have slowed down in the last four or five days and we have to stretch to that $200,000 mark.. Every little bit helps.

Some have asked why Meridian would sponsor this humanitarian project, and the answer is simple—because the Lord, Himself, responded with love to those with leprosy during his life time, and understood how stigmatized and abandoned they are. We want to help, too. If each of us do a little, we can accomplish something big. Please donate to

If you have donated before, but you want to do more, please do!

To answer many of the questions readers are asking about leprosy:

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s Disease, is caused by the micro-bacteria Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis. It is possible to be infected and not show symptoms for another 5 to 20 years. Children are particularly vulnerable, however in general, leprosy is hard to contract.

Leprosy is a sister disease to TB and is airborne. It is believed to be spread by coughing. Most scientists believe that under normal circumstances you need to carry the genetic marker in order to contract leprosy. It is believed that only 5% of people carry this marker. Even then, it requires a sustained exposure. For example, Rising Star Outreach has sent more than 1,000 volunteers to India who work directly with the leprosy-affected and none of them has ever contracted the disease.

There is currently no accepted vaccination for leprosy. The U.N. policy is that a country can consider leprosy contained or eliminated if it reaches a level of new infections of 1/10,000 people.

There are approximately 173,000 new reported cases of leprosy every year, with India having 60% of those cases. Worldwide, 16 million people have been cured of leprosy through a Multi-drug therapy distributed by the WHO. More than 8 million of those people were in India.

Change a life. Donate to the school for the children of the leprosy-affected in India at

Leprosy has proven to be difficult to bring into control in India, mostly due to the extreme poverty of many areas and due to the terrible stigma attached to those with the disease. Because of this stigma, which essentially designates the afflicted as “Untouchables” (or Dalits or Unscheduled Caste), many people try to hide any symptoms instead of seeking out treatment.

Leprosy damages the nerves, particularly in the eyes and limbs, making the patient unable to feel pain. Believe it or not, pain is a blessing, because without pain, it becomes very easy for the leprosy-affected to injure themselves. The cuts or injuries quickly become infected in the humid climate of India, especially since they usually go untreated due to the stigma. Most doctors refuse to treat them, for fear of becoming “defiled” themselves.

These wounds without treatment will eventually become gangrenous. Maggots often move in, and the limb ends up having to be amputated. This is not because of active leprosy, but rather, from the after-effects of the disease.

Rising Star Outreach runs mobile medical clinics that treat these ulcers. We also provide many life-giving surgeries, and even limb reconstructions. We screen thousands for the disease. This year we are set to give more than 50,000 medical treatments and services.

Rising Star helps to create economic self-reliance through micro-finance, helping the leprosy-affected create small businesses so that they can support their families with dignity and become productive members of society.

We also run schools for the children of the leprosy colonies so that we can stop this disease at this generation. Through education, the children of the leprosy-affected are able to break out of “the curse” and achieve success in life.

Change a life. Donate to the school for the children of the leprosy-affected in India at