Overcoming TB and Stigma in India

Speeches Shim

B Chinmayee, a survivor of both abuse and tuberculosis, uses her own experience to help others overcome their challenges.
B Chinmayee, a survivor of both abuse and tuberculosis, uses her own experience to help others overcome their challenges.
Photo credit: REACH

B Chinmayee is a classical Indian dancer from Odisha, a state on India’s eastern coast. After she was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in 2017, a bout of TB meningitis left her paralyzed in a hospital, and she subsequently suffered a miscarriage.

Sadly, Chinmayee discovered that this serious but treatable disease was only the beginning of her challenges. She faced challenges from husband and his family, with whom she lived. They verbally abused her, blamed her for her illness, refused to pay for any of her treatment, and stopped visiting her in the hospital. When Chinmayee was discharged, she was still unable to walk properly, which provoked further abuse and stigmatization from her husband and his family. Eventually, her husband forced her to leave the house without providing any financial support.

“Delayed [TB] diagnosis made me paralyzed and shattered my dream to dance on a large stage,” Chinmayee said. However, with support from her father, she was able to complete her treatment and was determined to lead a normal life.

As a first step, she participated in a Capacity Building Workshop for TB Survivors organized by USAID local partner Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health (REACH). Through REACH, Chinmayee became a “TB Champion,” sharing her own experience and providing psycho-social support to others with TB.

Chinmayee started by talking to individuals on trains, which led to speaking at community awareness meetings in her neighborhood, and then to large crowds at local festivals. In September 2020, Chinmayee spoke at the launch of “TB Haarega Desh Jeetaga” (TB will lose and the country will win), a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about TB and encourage people with TB symptoms to seek medical attention. She shared her determination to end TB stigma and to eventually dance again.

“I often glance through my old photographs in my bright and traditional costume and that gives me a determination to dance again,” she said. “I do try a few simple steps and have shared it with my TB Champions. Their encouragement motivates me to perform one day, especially on Mahisasurmardini which depicts the powerful Goddess Kali killing the demon king Mahisasur.”

Last updated: January 05, 2021

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