Events & Appointments

On the last Sunday of January, every year, Aifo and its groups in Italy together with its international partners, celebrate the World Leprosy Day (WLD). WLD was estbalished by Raoul Follereau in 1954. Aifo activities related to the WLD already start in December, linked with the World Disability Day on 3 December, and continue till February.

Last WLD was celebrated on Sunday 28January 2018.

Preparatory activities of WLD included a private audience of the Aifo groups and representatives with the Holy Pope in Vatican city, held on 6 December 2017.

A key activity for the WLD is the sale of “honey of solidarity” by the AIFO volunteers in around one hundred city squares by Aifo volunteers to raise the funds for Aifo’s activities. This is also an opportunity to raise awareness among the general public about the different themes of Aifo’s work inspired by the ideals of Raoul Follereau such as human dignity, equality of people, access to human rights and universal brotherhood.

Different groups of AIFO all over Italy organise other local activities in their own cities for fund-raising and awareness building, such as cultural programmes, meetings in schools and exhibitions.

Aifo & the World Health Organisation

AIFO is in official relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and participates in the World Health Assembly in Geneva. In WHO, AIFO has especially close relations with Disability and Rehabilitation team (DAR), with which it collaborates through Joint Plans of Action.

In the image on the left you can see, Maria Alarcos Cieza from WHO/DAR with AIFO representatives – Antonio Lissoni (President of Aifo), Francesca Ortali (Head of International Project Office) and Dr Sunil Deepak, (collaborator) at the DAR office in Geneva in August 2016 to discuss the new Joint Plan of Action.

Some of the recent significant activities carried out by AIFO in collaboration with WHO/DAR included the following:

– Quality of life of elderly persons – With technical support of WHO, AIFO togehter with Municiple Government of Ponte San Niccolo (PD) in Italy and in collaboration with University of Padova, is involved in a action research on the quality of life of elderly persons, including their need for technical appliances. This project initiated in 2015 and is expected to be completed by 2018.

– Collaboration for organisation of international CBR congresses in Bangkok (2009), Abuja (2010), Manila (2011) and Agra (2012). In Bangkok, AIFO organized three pre and post congress workshops on (1) Community-based Rehabilitation (CBR) and mental health, (2) CBR and United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and (3) CBR and Leprosy. In Manila, AIFO organized a pre-congress workshop on CBR and emancipatory research. Finally in Agra (India) in November 2012, AIFO in collaboration with WHO/DAR and other international partners, coordinated the organisation of two workshops – (1) CBR and persons with intellectual disabilities; and (2) Going beyond the taboos in CBR – (a) sexuality and reproductive rights, and (b)violence and abuse towards persons with disabilities.

– Collaboration for preparation of CBR Guidelines published in 2010. Ongoing collaboration for preparation of “Training of Trainers – online training package” and for “Monitoring and evaluation of CBR”.

– Collaboration for preparation and diffusion of first World Disability Report published in 2011.

– Conducting significant research initiatives such as the S-PARK/CBR initiative on impact of CBR and the research on violence towards persons with disabilities..

– During 2013-14, AIFO also collaborated with WHO/DAR for the development of monitoring and evaluation manual for CBR and for the development of Training of Trainers package for CBR.

More information about the work of WHO/DAR is available from their webpage (opens in a new window).

Links & Alliances of Aifo

This page presents the key alliances and partnerships of AIFO. In 2017, AIFO completed fifty-six years. In these years, AIFO has played a key role in setting up of some important international networks and federations. Apart from the networks mentioned below, AIFO also collaborates with other UN organizations, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and with different universities.

World Health Organisation (WHO)

AIFO is in official relation with World Health Organisation (WHO). In WHO, AIFO works closely with Disability and Rehabilitation (DAR) team and with Global Leprosy Programme. Read more about AIFO’s work in collaboration with WHO.

International Federation of Anti-leprosy Associations (ILEP)

AIFO is a founder member of ILEP that coordinates world wide work related to fight against leprosy. More informaiton about ILEP is available from its webpage.

International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC)

AIFO is a founder member of IDDC, that brings together all the major world organisations involved in work related to disability and development. More information is available from the IDDC website.

RIDS – Italian Network on Disability & Development

RIDS, the Italian Network on Disability and Development was started in 2011. It involves four organizations, 2 non-governmental organizations (AIFO and Educaid) and 2 organizations of people with disabilities (FISH and DPI Italy).


Disabled Peoples International

AIFO has a long history of collaboration with Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI) that brings together national organisations of persons with disabilites (DPOs). Among the different DPI organisations, AIFO has a Framework agreement of collaboration with DPI Italy and with DPI of Asia Pacific region. You can read more about DPI from their website.

IDEA – International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement

IDEA brings together the organisations of persons affected with leprosy from different parts of the world.

Amici Trust India

Amici Trust is the partner and international member of Aifo in India. Its office is based in Bangalore.

BRASA Brazil

BRASA is the partner and international member of Aifo in Brazil. Its office is based in Sao Paulo.

Contact Aifo

In Italy, AIFO is a grassroots organisation with groups spread all over Italy. AIFO groups are sub-divided into regional coordinations. Some of the AIFO groups are volunteer associations registered locally. These groups have around one thousand registered members, who send representatives to AIFO General assembly. You can find more information about AIFO groups and regional coordinations in the Italian version of the AIFO website (opens in a new window).

AIFO has a YouTube channel and a Facebook page.

AIFO also has partner organisations in some countries such as Brazil, India and Mongolia. These partner organisations also have delegates to AIFO general assembly and are the international members of AIFO.

The head-office of AIFO is based in Bologna, in the northern part of Italy. The international activities of AIFO in the world are carried out through this head-office.

AIFO Head-Office

AIFO, Via Borselli 4-6, 40135 Bologna, Italy

Telephone: (+39) 051-4393.211 – Fax: (+39) 051-434046


Aifo & Raoul Follereau

AIFO was inspired by the French journalist and philosopher Raoul Follereau. There are many Raoul Follereau organisations inspired by him in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

A Brief Biography of Raoul Follereau

He was born in Nevers (France) in 1903. Raoul Follereau was just 17 years old when he published his first volume: The book of love. Still very young, he started his successful career of writer & poet.

At the age of 22, he married Madeleine Boudou. In 1936, the director of an Argentine newspaper asked him to go to West Africa to tread Father de Foucauld’s steps, whose 20th anniversary of death was about to be celebrated. It was during one of those travels that Follereau first met the leprosy-affected persons. In the following ten years, he traveled the world many times, holding conferences to raise awareness and to collect funds, which allowed him to support the building of a centre for the leprosy affected persons in Adzope in Ivory Coast.

But he still felt that some thing more should be done. He wanted the leprosy-affected persons to be free from the segregation and the stigma of the disease. So he went to visit them in leprosariums, he embraced them, he became friends with them, to promote the idea that leprosy affected persons are human beings like others.

In addition to the support to the leprosy patients and the fight against the stigma, he also carried out a strong campaign to inform people about poverty, injustice and indifference, which were for him the underlying causes of the disease. His appeals for peace and for a more equal distribution of the planet resources, became very famous.

Raoul Follereau was an able communicator and he had a great ability in raising enthusiasm and in stimulating commitment from people. These gifts, together with a strong desire to work for the most under-privileged, gave a great social impact to his initiatives. Some of the better-known initiative launched by him include the following:

  • 1944 – A letter to the president Franklin D. Roosevelt to ask for the equivalent of one day of war for works of peace.
  • 1946 – He established the Order of Charity which, later on became the Raoul Follereau Foundations.
  • 1947 – On Good Friday, he proclaimed the general strike against egoism.
  • 1949 – He published “Atom bomb or Charity” distributed in 15 languages in millions of copies. It became the manifesto of a campaign called “To love each other or To disappear”.
  • 1954 – He established the World Leprosy Day, which is still celebrated in most countries in the world on the last Sunday of January, each year.
  • 1954 – A letter to the presidents of Russia and United States to ask them to donate the cost of one bomber, for the treatment of the leprosy patients.
  • 1962 – Letters to all the heads of state of the world, proposing that if, in 1962 each nation could give one hundred francs out of each million francs used for their defense budget for the treatment of the leprosy patients, all the leprosy patients in the world could be cured.
  • 1966 – On his initiative ELEP, the European federation of the associations working against leprosy, was founded. A few years later, this federation became international and is now called ILEP.
  • 1970 – His book “The book of love” was distributed in more than 10 millions copies, in 35 languages.
  • 1975 – He submitted the text of the “Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Leprosy Affected Persons” to the United Nations.

Raoul Follereau died in Paris (France) on December 6th 1977. He was a great social transformer. Many of his statements and campaigns are still so true for the events of present times. Millions of persons are still working, inspired by his words and his works. There are many Raoul Follereau associations in the world inspired by his words and working for leprosy affected persons and other under-privileged and marginalised groups. For example, there are other Raoul Follereau associations in France, Benin, Madagascar, Mali, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Chad, Portugal and Guinea-Bissau.

The image below is from his visit to the Aifo office in Bologna (Italy) in 1976.

His most famous books are:

  • If Christ tomorrow
  • Traffic lights civilization
  • Men like the others
  • The only truth is to love each other
  • I will sing after my death
  • The book of love