Living in the lap of leprosy

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(Photo courtesy Tyler

Tyler Vigue traveled to India with Rising Star to help serve people with leprosy. (Photo courtesy Tyler Vigue)

Leprosy is feared and misunderstood, but Rising Star Outreach executive director Tyler Vigue is passionate about changing that.

In India, 15 people are told they have leprosy every hour, with a strong stigma attached to the diagnosis. Treated or not, those with the centuries-old disease are deemed unfit for jobs, housing and interaction with others. But the truth is that leprosy is curable and one of the least contagious diseases, with an estimated 95 percent of the population immune.

Rising Star, which is based in Provo, creates a safe haven where those with leprosy can seek treatment and support. Tyler manages relationships between Rising Star and external entities like the organization’s India team, major donors and other supporters.

“My heart is touched by the cause,” he says. “There are other poor people in the world who have health challenges, but with the centuries-old stigma associated with leprosy, this population is really the least among us. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be a part of something special.”

Callie Reagan, director of programs and outreach for Rising Star, admires Tyler’s willingness to change jobs for the organization.

“Tyler was immediately touched by the mission,” she says. “He was moved by it so much that he left a comfortable job to take on the challenge of running the organization.”

Tyler’s favorite aspect of Rising Star is that it brings about change for both those being served and those doing the serving.

“Volunteers are able to go around the world and serve a community, and in doing so they see the world differently,” he says. “When you go to India with Rising Star, you come back changed and you never see the world the same again.”

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