International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement IDEA

  • For over 3,000 years and continuing into the 21st century, the stigma associated with leprosy has been one of the most persistent and pervasive forms of social injustice that society has forced upon its fellow human beings. Men, women and children of all ages whose lives have been challenged by leprosy have had their most basic human rights denied by virtually every culture and major religion throughout time. Despite the fact that there has been a cure for leprosy for more than 60 years, outdated images and stereotypes persist, resulting in widespread prejudice and discrimination.
  • In March, 2003, IDEA launched a Global Campaign to Eliminate the Stigma Associated with Leprosy. IDEA has identified nine strategies that have been shown to effectively get rid of the stigma associated with leprosy. We have repeatedly seen, from country to country, that these are the activities that work together to transform the image of leprosy and, consequently, people’s lives: … (full text Acknowledging).

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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).

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