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New lease of life for HIV infected women

By L. Renganathan

KARUR, APRIL 9. Nineteen HIV infected women, mostly destitute and widowed, today got a new lease of life when the Cooperative Department handed over sewing machines to them free of cost so that they could use it to earn a living.

Shunned by their kin and ostracised by the society, the women who were desperate to lead a normal life can now stand on their own legs.

At 22, life already seemed a dark tunnel for Jyothi (name changed on request), whose husband, who has since died, infected her with the dreaded virus. In addition to this, her child too tested positive for the virus. When she ran from pillar to post to earn her bread, even agencies that wanted to help her get a bank credit were helpless to do so because of her inability to secure a guarantor. The stories of the rest of the members in the group, all aged between 22 and 30, were similar to Jyothi's.

It is in these circumstances that non-governmental organisations and the District Social Welfare Department joined hands with the Cooperative Department to help them search for ways to earn their daily bread. Though the Cooperative Department initially could not sanction them loans, it bailed them out using their Common Good Fund, which is raised from the net profit of the cooperative institutions in the district.

The 19 cooperative societies in the district that contributed to the fund got the women Rs.50,854 to purchase the sewing machines.

Some of the NGOs arranged for the women's healthcare. The Collector, A. Karthik, in the presence of the Joint Registrar of Cooperative Societies, S. Karikalan, handed over the sewing machines to the beneficiaries today.

"This is not the first time the Cooperative Department is coming forward to help the needy and the neglected. A sum of Rs.8.5 lakhs has been disbursed from the Common Good Fund this year, including money contributed towards relief for the tsunami victims," points out Mr. Karikalan. We extended Rs.75,000 this year to budding sportspersons for getting sports accessories and clothing.

A grateful and relieved beneficiary observed that she can bear life's burden much better as she could now stand on her own feet and nurture hopes for a better tomorrow for her child. As for the Cooperative Department, it can now feel happy that it has discharged its social obligations satisfactorily by going beyond legal constraints.

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