Times of India
23 August 2010
By Yamini Nair
Sneha Care Home Caters To The Needs Of HIV+ Kids
They nurture dreams like any other child of their age, their hopes are the same, they are energetic and enthusiastic too. But their systems have been battling the deadly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) right from birth. But Sneha Care Home takes care to ensure their dreams are not crippled.
Though HIV is an increasingly thriving menace in our society, little thought is spared for children who suffer after their parents fall victim to it. For no fault of theirs, they are left to face the extreme bitterness of living with the disease.
With treatment options expanding, issues about their future get more complex. Sneha Care Home (SCH) stepped in to address these issues. Started on July 14, 2008, SCH and Shining Star School address multiple issues of children infected with HIV, as well as prepare them for a productive and constructive life.
"Now with treatment options increasing dramatically, the lifespan of HIV–infected has also gone up, making us think of their future too," says Fr Mathew Perumpil, director of Sneha Care Home.
"When they grow up and become sexually active, they become potential transmitters of the virus.
Initially, we used to send our children to nearby schools. Once a teacher in the school noticed one of our boys becoming intimate with a girl from his class and alerted us. We were totally unprepared to handle such a situation. That is when we started this new venture with 20 children where they are given valuebased education," he adds.
Now, SCH houses 83 children who are below 12 years of age, including 34 girls. Most of them were orphaned due to the deadly HIV and many are with a single parent. "We choose kids from houses where the environment is not conducive to their healthy growth. We take away the burden of bringing up the children from suffering families," says Perumpil.
Children are educated at the Shining Star School premises which ensures a good value system. The school, based on the National Open School Curriculum, focuses on encouraging creativity and auditing the aptitude of these children. "We want them to enter a good profession which is less physically taxing and that will define their self–esteem to live a life full of hope and meaning," says Perumpil.
The tiny bundles of energy who run around here prove this very fact. With a smile on their lips and stars in their eyes, they are surging ahead in life. Tenyear–old Varalakshmi wants to become a nurse. Ask her why, and she says: "I want to take care of others." Puneet Kumar, 11, wants to be a farmer and is already willing to look after the vegetable garden at SCH. To ensure these kids don’t miss anything in life, SCH sends them to foster homes for holidays. "We identify and screen the family before sending the children," says Perumpil. With all the care and affection from SCH, these children are better equipped to face their future with a smile.
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