HIV positive kids get 'mother's care'
Two years ago 40-year-old Anuradha, who is HIV positive, came to Jaipur with uncertainty about her future. Today she is a ‘mother’ to similarly-affected 25 children at Rays-Asha Ki Ek Kiran, a unique home where the caregivers themselves are patients.
Anuradha is not the only one providing motherly care to the children who don’t have parents. Rays has hired four other women - all HIV positive - who take care of the children by giving moral and psychological support.
“I had no idea what to do after losing my husband to the disease; I left my home of a joint family with two kids and I started working for a hospital as a caretaker for AIDS patients as the qualified nurses were reluctant to come into direct contact with these patients,” Anuradha said.
“Life was tough but at least I could earn a living,” she added. It was then retired army captain Gurinder Virk, then a Gurgaon-based business executive spotted her and persuaded her to be a part of a shelter house that he so earnestly wanted to begin.
“We had been to a state government orphanage once and saw that the people there were reluctant to admit HIV positive kid. That very day I and my friend decided to open one a place where we will have only HIV-positive children,” Virk said.
“Hiring an HIV-positive person was definitely a challenge due to social stigma about the disease. But I had full faith in Anuradha’s capabilities and her experience with the hospital came as a huge help,” he added.
Virk started the shelter home with two children in 2010. Today it has 25. Besides providing for their lodging and food, Rays supplies medicines and also takes care of their education and extra-curricular activities.
Running the home costs Virk Rs 1,50,000 per month, which is contributed by a dedicated band of 50 friends.
One such friend, Rashmi Kuchhal, a restaurant owner in Jaipur and an entrepreneur looks after administrative issues and visits the home for a few hours every evening.
Virk, who used to visit every weekend, has given up his job to devote his full time to the home.
The shelter house has five neatly decorated large rooms occupied by five children each, apart from a study room and a library. The five caregivers also live on the premises.The children go to Rawat Public School, which fully supports Virk.