16 June 2010
By Nuradha Mascarenhas
One of them, a seventeen–yearold student who has to support his HIV positive brother, has decided not to study further and secured his first job as a helper at an air–conditioner repair shop for a salary of Rs 3,000 per month. Another student is already on the second line antiretroviral treatment and has to travel to Mumbai for medication.
He aspires to be a male nurse with help from the orphanage run by Manavya and has enrolled for training as an auxillary nursing midwife.
The Indian Express had reported on September 29, 2006 how HIV positive children shunned by society were forced to study at a oneteacher school.
"Our experience with these two students at the Bhugaon Zilla
Parishad school discouraged us from subjecting them to further humiliation. Hence, at Manavya we decided to opt for non–formal schooling," admits Ujwala Lawate, a managing trustee of Manavya, a shelter for orphaned children.
As of now, the ‘vasti–shala’ system, implemented by Manavya, has four teachers visiting the orphanage and teaching students from Balewadi to Class VIII. The Zilla Parishad only gives a Rs 8001,000 per teacher for the project; the organisation has to find sponsors to pay Rs 6,000 to each teacher.
"Students of Classes IX and X have to rely on self study with volunteers of NGOs helping them," said Lawate.
Despite its best efforts, Manavya has not succeeded in providing an environment entirely free from prejudice against these children.
"We advise them not to reveal their HIV status unless for medical reasons," said Lawate.
Lawate said the government grant of Rs 950 per month per child is not enough to meet medical expenses and other needs. Of the 50 children, 41 are on anti–retroviral treatment and have to travel to the Sassoon Hospital once a month for their check up and medicines.
"One child died in last four years and another student, who could not clear one subject under the open school, contracted tuberculosis and had to undergo a minor surgical procedure," said Lawate.
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