To sustain themselves they picked up the threads of their lives, scores of people from across the country who have been cured of leprosy have now taken up self-employment.
On the occasion of World Leprosy Day Wednesday such people were awarded for deciding to live an independent life and economically supporting themselves.
One of the awardees was the 'Swadharnagar Colony' in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, where a group of 25 enthusiastic men have taken to fitting tiles to earn a living.
Another awardee was the Girigobardhan Colony Bolangir, Odisha, where women have taken to selling goat milk.
A group from Allahabad, who moved from begging to selling small puja items and cosmetics, was also awarded.
The awards have been constituted by the Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation in a bid to end stigma and discrimination faced by leprosy patients.
The awards were given away by former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, who is the convenor of an informal group of parliamentarians to fight the stigma against leprosy.
"It is laudable what these people have done. It is time we all forget leprosy and move ahead," Trivedi said adding that over time there should be no need to mark World Leprosy Day.