17 June 2010
By Shubhlakshmi Shukla
A NEW children’s home for AIDS orphans could prove to be a boon for several children like Saloni (name changed), who lost both her parents to HIV/AIDS. Incidentally, Saloni’s grandparents are not financially well off to secure the nine–year–old against HIV.
It was a few days ago that a network of HIV/AIDS affected people found Saloni and her grandparents in Kutch district. The association approached the children’s home run by the Gujarat State Network of People with HIV/AIDS (GSNP+) and state Social Defense department to support Saloni with nutrition, medication and studies.
Gujarat is among the few states in India to start the concept of children’s home for HIV/AIDS patients this year.
Two such homes were started this April, one in Surat for girls, and another in Gandhinagar for boys.
Deputy Director of Social Defence Department, Aruna Dave said: "The main emphasis for the Social
Defence Department for 2009–10 is to provide benefit to the HIV/AIDS positive children. Generally, the government does not provide grants to the grant–in–aid institutions in the first year. But, we are giving 100 per cent grant to the children’s home, considering their nutritional and medication needs.
The Social Defence Department will also provide scholarships to the children if they pursue their studies.
This also applies to those whose parents are HIV positive." Saloni, who is in Surat now, will be one of the students instrumental in christening the brand new children’s home for HIV/AIDS,
where she is now residing.
GNSP+ president Daksha Patel said: "Saloni cried for her grandparents when she was brought here. But now, she seems settled. Her grandparents were very old and had no money even to buy her the tickets for her journey to Surat."
Patel added: "The children home will be given a new name soon, so that it gives them the feeling of home. The aim is to make the children in the age group of 1–17 independent, so that they can take care of themselves from the disease. We will take care that the children don’t feel and don’t mention that they are living in an orphanage, to their classmates. We have shortlisted a few names and left it to them to christen it."
The caretakers at the two orphanages are also HIV positive, Patel said. She added: "An HIV/AIDS positive couple is taking care of the boys’ home in Gandhinagar and one girl is taking care of the girls in Surat. The numbers of students is likely to increase as the schools reopen. At present, there are around 20 children in both orphanages, but their number will increase to 36 as they take school leaving certificates for admission to the children’s home." She further said that as soon as the children join the home, they will be admitted to the new government primary schools and given daily tuition.
Last year, during a public hearing hosted by state Health and Family Welfare Department Minister Jay Narayan Vyas, the issue about HIV/AIDS positive orphans were discussed. Now, the state government has agreed to provide support to them and sanctioned two children’s home.
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