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World Leprosy Day in Australia: New podcast series reveals hidden lives

Leprosy Mission Australia 4 mins read
The new podcast from The Leprosy Mission Australia

Sharing the hidden and forgotten stories of people impacted by Leprosy is the purpose of a new podcast series to be launched by The Leprosy Mission Australia on World Leprosy Day, Sunday 29 January in 2024.

The first episode of the Hidden Lives Podcast series tells the story of Karuna, a 15-year-old girl from a rural part of Nepal for whom everything is not as it seems when she attends a session run by The Leprosy Mission. 

She’s there to get a small patch of dry skin on her left wrist assessed. That day, she is diagnosed with leprosy.

“When you first meet Karuna with her big eyes, her long eyelashes and bright smile, you would think she was just like every other 15-year-old, going to school, talking about fashion and makeup with her friends,” said International Programs Officer Australia Eva Lee, who co-hosts the podcast series.

During Episode 1, listeners learn that Karuna has attended the check-up all by herself. Her father is deceased and as a day worker, her mother cannot afford to miss a day of work because their circumstances are poor and precarious.

At 15, I thought that that was really brave, for her to come by herself,” Ms Lee said.

Fortunately for Karuna, there are people within The Leprosy Mission project to help her understand her diagnosis and access available treatment and support.

There’s much more to learn about Karuna’s story in Episode 1, Reality is not what it seems’in the Hidden Lives Podcast series.

The series features five episodes, each of which tells the story of an individual who has been supported by one of the Leprosy Mission Australia projects run with The Leprosy Mission Nepal and supported by the Australian community.

Co-hosted by Ms Lee and Leprosy Mission Nepal Communications Officer Subin Adhikari to enable different cultures and perspectives to be shared, the episodes explore the lives of the project participants and the issues they face including stigma, mental health and overcoming traditional values.

Currently around 2,500 to 3,000 people each year are diagnosed with Leprosy in Nepal, however not all project participants have leprosy.

“We hope the podcast will give listeners a more detailed understanding of a project participant’s life from the perspective of The Leprosy Mission staff working with them,” Ms Lee said. “Their lives might be completely different to those of people living in Australia but they also have amazing life experiences worth sharing.”

“As staff of The Leprosy Mission Australia, we want to uncover what is hidden and share with you the lives of the people we meet through our work – people who benefit from the generous support of our donors and supporters,” Ms Lee said.

The Leprosy Mission Australia CEO Dr Greg Clarke said he wants World Leprosy Day, in the year The Leprosy Mission marks 150 years of service globally, to be a launchpad towards a world where no one is diagnosed with leprosy again, where no one lives with disability because of this preventable disease, and where no one faces discrimination because of a leprosy diagnosis. 

“The Hidden Lives Podcast reminds us that though sometimes hidden or forgotten, leprosy still exists,” Dr Clarke said. “However, this tropical disease is preventable and treatable, and suffering from leprosy is needless.”

“This year in the period around World Leprosy Day we are focused on raising the funding needed to rebuild a facility that helps ease the suffering of people experiencing leprosy in Nepal.

“Together, we can beat leprosy. Australians can take action for change by becoming a Hospital Hero, supporting our work to rebuild the Self-Care Unit at Anandaban Hospital just outside Kathmandu,” Dr Clarke said.

Read more about the Hidden Lives Podcast at and learn how to become a Hospital Hero at




  • The Leprosy Mission Australia CEO Dr Greg Clarke is available for interviews in relation to the Hidden Lives Podcast and World Leprosy Day.
  • An advance copy of Episode 1 of the Hidden Lives Podcast is available to media outlets on request.
  • The full series of the Hidden Lives Podcast will be available from Sunday, 28 January. Summary of episodes:
    • Episode 1: ‘Reality is not what it seems’ – tells the story of teenage Karuna. She looks like every other 15-year-old, but was she?
    • Episode 2: ‘Challenging boundaries’ – tells the story of 25-year old mother-of-three Urmila whose husband died, leaving her without money or income. How did she find her way to challenge traditional beliefs and build a new business and life for herself and her children? 
    • Episode 3: A second life’ – tells the story of Bahadur, a budding engineering student who loved football before a diagnosis of leprosy shattered his dreams and confidence. Now, years later, will Bahadur get a second chance at life?
    • Episode 4: ‘Dark clouds in mental health’ – tells the story of Niraj, who was happily married and had a stable job until a tragic road accident left him spiralling into depression. How does little community knowledge about mental health affect Niraj and who can support him?
    • Episode 5: ‘A dream to carry on’ – tells the story of 19-year-old Asa, who has only known life in a leprosy colony because both her parents had leprosy. Fresh out of high school, what would attending university mean for Asa and her family?
  • Hashtags: #WorldLeprosyDay #BeatLeprosy #LeprosyStillExists #EndStigma #ActNow #ZeroDiscrimination


For further information please contact:

Dr Greg Clarke (CEO, Leprosy Mission Australia)

P: 0480 547 642 or 0419 995 875 or E:


Mr Paul Andrews (Communications Manager, Leprosy Mission Australia)

P: 0411 428 035 or E:

Key Facts:

World Leprosy Day is Sunday 28th January 2024.

Leprosy Mission Australia has released a five-ep podcast about the experience of leprosy in Nepal.

2024 is the 150th anniversary of the founding of The Leprosy Mission globally.

Contact details:

Dr Greg Clarke (CEO, Leprosy Mission Australia)

P: 0480 547 642 or 0419 995 875 or E:


Mr Paul Andrews (Communications Manager, Leprosy Mission Australia)

P: 0411 428 035 or E:


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