Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Children of Leprosy-Afflicted Families in India: Nursing Student Perspectives

Monday, 30 July 2012

Cheryl Ann Corbett, APRN, MSN, NP-C
College of Nursing, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Karen Miller Lundberg, MS, RN, CNE
College of Nurisng, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify ways that nursing students can contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty in children impacted by leprosy.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to determine the positive benefits of students participating in global nursing education.


To show that children from families afflicted by leprosy in India are often trapped in a cycle of poverty and are restrained from attending school and become the source of family income through street begging. This presentation will identify strategies by nursing students participating in a global nursing course that contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty in these children.


Undergraduate nursing students participated in a four week global nursing and cultural immersion course in India. In collaboration with a non-government organization, students worked with children from leprosy-afflicted families. Two hundred children from these families attend a boarding school operated by the NGO, as they are not allowed to attend public schools due to the social stigma of leprosy. At this school the children are provided with a clean water source and regular meals. Children are placed in family groups and are taught values of character, cleanliness, health, and service in a safe environment. Students were assigned to “families” of children and actively participated with these children in various activities.


Students interacted daily with children assisting them with school assignments, helping them with learning the English language, teaching appropriate social interactions, and teaching them a variety of new skills. Nursing students taught classes to the children and staff on basic first aid, CPR and hygiene principles. Nursing skills were implemented and developed by giving essential immunizations, performing physical exam screenings and skin examinations specific to potential illnesses in this population.


The results of the many interactions between children and nursing students were very positive and had a lasting impact on both parties. The children benefited intellectually and emotionally from the one-on-one attention provided by the nursing students. Students expressed the life-changing impact that participating in global health nursing had on them.