World AIDS Day: Improving the lives of HIV positive children

HIV continues to be a serious public health concern that affects millions of individuals throughout the world.

"End disparities. End AIDS" is the theme of World AIDS Day 2021. (File)

By Yuvraj Pokharna

Being HIV positive as an orphan, female child was quite distressful in the past and it made lives miserable for many women in India. To help such girls secure a normal future, Special Home For Girls took an initiative to overlook every aspect of their lives. It is a Surat-based NGO that brings like-minded people together to create change. Their main areas of concentration are health and education for HIV positive and specially-abled children, which they consider to be the cornerstones of a happy life. It has been a safe refuge for children who have been abused or abandoned, with hundreds of youngsters passing through its doors for the past many years.

Their health efforts are aimed at marginalized populations of children on whom they may have the most influence. Whether a kid has HIV/AIDS, is affected by parental illness, or has reoccurring medical issues, they should have access to the treatment they require.

Access to basic healthcare is generally lacking in the communities like tribal areas where they work. By informing parents and communities about available health services and how to use them, they try to improve their children’s basic health. They also help these girls in getting married and ensure that their children stay HIV negative and live a completely normal life.

Jananidham — the place where HIV positive girls are rehabilitated (accommodated).

In the past, being infected with HIV AIDS was highly stigmatized and it made life miserable especially for orphaned girl children. To help them live with dignity, they are provided with good quality education and vocational training for running beauty parlors, and operating machines. In fact, they also organized a puja for these young women during the last Navratri which was well received by local media and citizens.

They are also working to educate parents and other key stakeholders on how to support HIV infected children and how to learn to live with life-threatening conditions. This is critical to building a long-term healthcare solution for the children she is trying to help.

Simultaneously, they use training and advocacy initiatives to educate and empower women in the greater community. They want to assist women to attain economic and emotional independence, as well as confidence and knowledge of their rights.

HIV continues to be a serious public health concern that affects millions of individuals throughout the world. “End disparities. End AIDS” is the theme of World AIDS Day 2021.

Raising awareness among children and their communities about health-related concerns such as HIV and disabilities helps to minimize the stigma that children confront daily. She is trying to create the groundwork for a safer childhood by teaching people about healthcare.

“The Indian society has progressed significantly in the past few years as people no longer consider HIV-related discussions a taboo. They are more receptive about the medical guidance and patients are now treated with much more dignity and positivity. It is very motivating and it inspires me to continue trying to make a difference in this direction” says Monaben Bhaidaswala, a Surat-based humanist who has been serving HIV positive orphaned female children for the last seven years in association with Special Home For Girls.

She has also been working with mentally challenged children for the past 12 years to help improve their lives.

The Special Home For Girls is the largest organization of its type in the entire nation and it is among the torchbearers that helped many of India’s daughters live their lives respectfully despite the menace of HIV AIDS.

(The author is a Surat-based Educationist, Columnist and Social Activist. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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