Orphaned by AIDS, they live beside parents' graves

Orphaned by AIDS, they live beside parents' graves

For the past two months, five children aged between seven and 17 have been living in a cemetery besides their parents’graves. 

They were driven out of their homes by the residents of Jamuan village in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh district. The children’s parents succumbed to AIDS.

They were provided with two cots and few utensils for cooking food. During the rain, they used a plastic sheet that barely covered them. Incidentally, the children were living besides their parents grave.

The villagers drove away the children fearing that they could also contract the disease if they were allowed to stay, reflecting on their lack of awareness. 

Ironically, none of the children were found to be HIV positive when they were examined on Friday.

“Our father died of Aids two years ago. We used to do some petty jobs to look after our mother and ourselves. Then our mother died of AIDS, too, two months ago,” said the eldest of the five children. The villagers objected to their presence and forced them to leave the village. With no place to go, the children chose the graveyard for their home. Such was the isolation that they never dared to enter the village. “We eat whatever is given to us by the local people as alms,” they said.

Media intervention

As their plight caught the attention of the local newspapers and TV channels, district officials rushed to the village on Friday and met the children. The government announced that they would be allotted a piece of land besides a financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh each.

The children would be provided temporary government accommodation and the officials would hold talks with the villagers to allow the children to live in their ancestral home, sources said.

“We will also conduct an investigation in the matter and find out who are responsible for their plight. We will take action against them,” Additional District Magistrate Punit Shukla said.

There have been instances in the past in the state when doctors had refused to treat those affected by AIDS and were thrown out of the hospitals.

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