Profiles of affected children
Will you help me become a teacher?As told to Paripurna
Shobha (not her real name) is 13 and is HIV Positive. She is from Andhra Pradesh.
She lost her father when she was one year old and her mother when she was 12. She came to know about her HIV status only last year when she went for a check up.
She stays in a hostel for positive children. The hostel lacks even basic amenities. She is not under any HIV medication. Whenever she falls sick, she takes some general medicines kept in the office room of the hostel. She goes to school only to write exams as positive kids are not allowed to study in the school.
A teacher comes to the hostel and teaches them. She has an elder sister who is adopted by a Christian organization.
Shobha says, “More network people should come forward and help our hostel. I want to become a teacher and create awareness among kids about HIV”.
Richard Gere Remembers My Name
Raju (not his real name) is a 15 year old boy. “I used to live with my parents and three sisters in a place called Dindigul in Tamil Nadu. My parents died when I was four. My uncle took care of us for few days. But he was also very poor, so he couldn’t keep us. I was made a join a hostel in Suryannelli and my sisters were taken to hostels in some unknown place."
"I had studied till Class III in Dindigul but I had to start from Class One again all over again in Malayalam, a language I did not know. But I studied hard and got first rank in my class. During vacations I had nowhere to go - no one came to pick me up".
"After some days in the hostel, I started getting fever, cough and headache frequently. And then I developed a cyst under my arm. During the operation, I was diagnosed as HIV positive. The priest in the church brought me to Freedom Foundation in Bangalore".
"I started ART. Again I had to restart my schooling from Class 2 - this time in Tamil. I wanted to study in English but couldn’t get admission in a good school because of my positive status. In school, only the principal and teachers know of my HIV status. My uncle still does not know about this".
"Freedom Foundation takes care of my medicine and education. I am very thankful to them."
"I have met with the President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam. I also met Richard Gere twice in a period of six months. When I met him for the second time he was very quick to recall my name and called me by my name. That made me very happy. I also met with many movie stars in support group meetings".
"Earlier, I was scared to talk about my status thinking that people will shun me but now I am ready to come on TV also. We need more help for HIV affected and infected children. There should be separate centers for them taking care of their needs. We need to create awareness through counseling. I want to become a lawyer when I grow up."
Can We have More Such Programmes? Please.
Eleven year old Ramya (not her name) is from Tamil Nadu. “I came to know about my status only last year when my mother told me. Right from birth, I am on medication but never knew the reason for it."
"After my mother told me about my status, I am eager to take medicines and nutritious food and become healthy. My parents are positive, so is my elder sister who is studying in 8th grade. I am studying in 5th grade. Nobody in school knows our status. Only the immediate family knows about it. I have met Dr. Abdul Kalam, the President and Sonia Gandhi".
"I have attended network meetings since 2004. My mother works as a staff in the Positive Women's Network. By attending support groups meetings, we’ll come to know of other children problems and we should do more and more programs like this to help infected children. UNICEF and similar organizations should come forward to help us."
"I love singing and dancing and I like to play volleyball, hockey, chess and carroms. I want become a doctor so that I can invent a medicine which kills HIV and makes this world free of disease”.
He Misses Play and Friends
Vikram (13) (not his real name) is an affected child living from a small village of Maharashtra. He lost his father to HIV. His mother and brother are also positive. He has not yet had a check up for himself.
A very few relatives know about their status. One of his aunts broke the confidentiality and told the rest of the village. The family was asked to leave the village.
They moved to another village. They had to undergo further tests at the hospital and the doctor came to know the status. He announced their positive status to the village panchayat (local self government) and the panchayat spread the word around. In this village also, they are treated very badly.
While talking his heart out, he says, “In the school, nobody plays or eats with me. When I fall, nobody comes to my help. In our neighborhood also, nobody play with us. My father met with an accident and was given blood. He got infected to HIV at that time. But villagers think that he was infected because he had relationship with more than one woman. I want to join military and serve the country. The positive kids should get shelter, free education and jobs that suit their educational status.