They can look forward to a secure future
Efforts like the Naz Foundation India Trust's Care Home give a humane touch to theHIV/AIDS Prevention programme.
A caring face: Children at the Care Home
NOT every Home is opened by a Chief Minister. It takes some special children to get a Chief Minister to come along on a Saturday morning to declare open their Home.
Care Home, of Naz Foundation India Trust, was buzzing with activity as it opened its doors to the Chief Minister Sheila Dixit and over 300 guests and supporters from all walks of life.
One child diagnosed HIV+ was abandoned by his grandparents after his parents died of AIDS. He was brought to the Care Home with zero chances of survival. He survived. And on the day of the Home's opening, as the other children around him busied themselves getting ready for the function, he sat there worrying about his sandals, irritated with other little ones who were amused about this constant attention given to sandals.
In suburban Delhi, Care Home, a four-storied building, is home to children affected by HIV/AIDS. It's also the base camp for care and support for many other families and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Delhi.
Naz Foundation is currently working with150 families in their home-based care programme with people living in less privileged settlements and earning their livelihoods as daily wage-earners, auto-rickshaw drivers, helpers and petty business men. Most live in outlying areas of Delhi. Naz Care Home is a drop in the ocean of discrimination, stigma, fear, neglect, shortsightedness and denial towards the people and the disease. Richard Gere and The Godrej Foundation funded the Care Home for three years. Though they are not funding it anymore, they continue to support it.
The UNAIDS estimates that 170,000 children below the age of 15 are infected with HIV/AIDS in India. Official HIV Sentinel Surveillance does not include children and thus there are no official figures for the number of children affected by AIDs.
Moved by the groundswell of solidarity and goodwill around her, Anjali Gopalan said, "Everyone is helping to build a small but significant opportunity for children living with HIV/AIDS. Most importantly, reduce the stigma and discrimination against children living with HIV/AIDS ".
To 30-odd children in the home and to many families and their children (living with HIV/AIDS), Care Home provides succour, love, affection and guidance.
Suresh (name changed) a beneficiary of the outreach programme of Naz Foundation said, "The care workers treat me so well, I look forward to talking and interacting with them. I am not much concerned about the extent to which the treatment will work".
Just like any other child, these children at the Care Home go to school, play, paint, learn yoga and are curious about everything around them. They have fun and can nag you. It's a long and tough road but that didn't deter Anjali Gopalan. And she knows that it's a life-long commitment: to give a life to these children.
It was clear to everyone present that stellar efforts like the Care Home are needed to give a smiling, caring, loving human face to the HIV/AIDS Prevention efforts in this country.
Every child at the Care Home is a hope. Together with the care workers, counselors, teachers, cook, doctors and Director these children now can look forward to a future, just like any other child.
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