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Relieved Raju Relives New Lease of Life

Eight–year–old HIV+, Raju is a relieved lot. In fact, when Raju with his two siblings –Sandhya (7) and Ashish (4) – on Wednesday visited the primary school at Belamundi village under Bara tehsil of the district in presence of a team of health department, they were greeted by schoolchildren, authorities and villagers. Though the boy did not attend classes but his presence in school offered much respite to district health and administration authorities.

Incidentally, the school on Wednesday witnessed an attendance of 156 out of 210 students which was only 39 when the news of an HIV+ boy attending school spread in air.

Earlier, the villagers had stopped sending their wards to school after being influenced over misconceptions. But, the team of health department brought all villagers on a common platform by clearing their doubts over HIV and AIDS.

It were the women who came forward and accepted that Raju was not to be blamed and were sorry for their behaviour. "It all happened due to misconceptions and the maternal uncle of the boy, Rajnarayan is solely responsible for it" said Maganlal Nishad, a villager while talking to TOI.

Raju’s maternal uncle forcefully brought him into the village and made him reside near a tubewell which is in one corner of the village.When villagers asked him to let Raju stay with him he told them he was HIV+.

Following a series of developments, a ANM (a primary health worker) from Jasra primary health centre was called up by villagers. Nishad claimed that the health worker too refused to kiss Raju when she was asked by the villagers to kiss the child.

This mounted pressure on school authorities to restrict the entry of Raju and his two siblings to school. The villagers instructed their children to stay away from Raju.

Meanwhile, Dr Meesum SAM, assist district programme officer, AIDS control, who examined Raju, said that the Raju had mild fever and would recover soon. He added that the health department had cleared the doubts of villagers and the villagers were interested in knowing more about HIV and AIDS.

Rajnarayan, Raju’s maternal uncle promised the health officials that he would take proper care of Raju and offer all sorts of assistance to the HIV+ boy when required.

However, taking a serious note of Belamundi village, the health department has shot off a letter to senior education officials advising to sensitise teachers who would further clear the doubts of students and parents. SAM told TOI that a proposal to educate all department officials and employees was also underway and a series of educational and awareness camps would be soon organised.

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Source: Times of India

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