Popularly known as Baba Amte, Murlidhar Devidas Amte (26 December 1914 – 9 February 2008) was an Indian social worker and social activist known particularly for his work for the rehabilitation and empowerment of people suffering from leprosy.
Baba Amte received numerous awards and prizes including the Padma Vibhushan, the Dr Ambedkar International Award, the Gandhi Peace Prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Templeton Prize and the Jamnalal Bajaj Award.
Anandwan (literally Forest of Joy) is located near Warora in the Chandrapur District of the State of Maharashtra, India. It is an ashram, and a community rehabilitation centre for leprosy patients and the disabled from the most socially marginalised sections of Indian society. It was founded in 1948 by noted social activist, Baba Amte.
Baba Amte developed Anandwan to be a self-contained ashram. Residents are self-sufficient in terms of basic agricultural subsistence. Land fertility in the region has been revived and is maintained by using organic farming techniques and micro-water management. In addition, the ashram has various home-based, small-scale industry units run by the residents which generate income to cover additional requirements.
When the number of Anandwan residents grew, and many more leprosy affected families arrived, the need for schools arose. By enabling the children of leprosy patients to get a quality education, their chances of a quality of life in the outside world dramatically increase. Currently, these children are still not admitted into mainstream local schools because of the stigma they suffer from being children of leprosy-affected parents.
Since the founding of Anandwan, three primary schools have been established for children affected by leprosy, in addition to specialist schools for children who are visually or hearing impaired. Each school provides accommodation, healthy food and a loving, nurturing environment.
The Mandala Trust has supported the Anandwan schools with solar-powered water heaters and water purifiers, mosquito nets, and shoes and clothing for the students. We believe Anandwan to be a humbling example of love and service, with which we are proud to be associated.