At present, India has close to 1,70,000 children who are suffering from HIV/AIDS. Many of these children have been abandoned by their families for they have HIV and many of them have seen their parents die of HIV, leaving them orphaned.
Whatever the reason of their loneliness, these children like all others in the world, deserve a healthy and happy life. However, unlike normal children, these children need dedicated medical aid, plenty of positivity and lots and lots of love. While these children choose to fight with their medical condition day in and day out and still put in all their efforts to lead a life of a normal child, the society chooses to ignore them, ill-treat them, stigmatize them and exclude them from the community.
Yes! That happens even in the 21st century where people have accepted smartphones, internet and thousand and one other modern things into their world but still freeze to their age-old psychology that HIV is a contagious disease. And on the basis of this outlook of theirs, which of course has no scientific validity, they practice untouchability with HIV positive kids. Most of the times people do not even care to turn over how distressing it would be for these little angels who are already troubled enough, physically as well as psychologically by their medical condition.
Besides the need for spreading awareness among people that HIV/AIDS not communicable and hence does not spread by touching, hugging or staying around infected people, there is an imperative need to take care of children already infected by this disease.
RAYS-Asha Ki Ek Kiran is an NGO based in Jaipur that has committed to supporting HIV+ children for a healthy and happy life. They started an orphanage in 2010 with three children and presently have 2 homes sheltering around 50 HIV+ children with age between 3 and 17 years. These children attend regular school, learn music, dance, art, yoga, English, and get medical aid, balanced meals and lots of love. These children even travel around the country once or twice in a year during their school vacations.
Nandini Kuchhal, campaigner of FightRed campaign at Dreamwallets is a 14-year old school-going girl who has been closely associated with this NGO since she was 8 years old. In fact, she has grown up with these children, played with them, sang and danced with them, and participated in all their annual functions.
One day, while Nandini was interacting with these HIV+ children at RAYS home, telling them about extracurricular activities at her school, one of the children said that she was very lucky to get so much of exposure and opportunities at school. The very moment made her realize the disappointment among these children with regards to their present and future prospects. Forget opportunity; these children are battling hard every day even to be accepted by other children at school and society at large.
Though they are attending school with the support of RAYS, the discrimination against them still exists. Normal children do not interact with them, play with them, eat with them or let them participate in any common activities. This makes their struggle with life even more arduous, given that they are already buckling down with their medical problems.
Nandini is also an active sportsperson and is passionate about Athletics and Squash. Unfortunately, a few months ago she met with an accident and had to undergo a knee surgery due to which she had to go off the field for about 6 months. Being a habitual player, she found it hard to cope with the injury and the recovery during these 6 months. It was then that she understood how important it is to accept adversities in life and get over them. She felt, just like her, it is essential for HIV+ children to accept their reality and develop the attitude to forge ahead to be able to lead a successful and respectful life. But that can happen only with the backing and encouragement of not just a few people but the entire society, especially youth.
Well aware of all the discrimination faced by these children, Nandini aims to raise a modest amount of Rs.3,75,000 through her campaign FightRed. The four key objectives of her campaign are:
She intends to use this amount to fight the social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS by spreading awareness among people, particularly youth so that these children get accepted as a part of society. A part of the fund will be used for skill development in children at RAYS home to enable them to start a line of handmade products such as scarfs, paintings, candles, greeting cards, paper bags, crochet items etc. so that they can be financially independent, ensuring a bright future for themselves. She also wants to introduce these children to sports as it is the key to shaping a winner’s attitude towards life.
We, at Dreamwallets, seek your contribution towards FightRed, an ambitious campaign by Nandini Kuchhal so that she can fulfill her aspiration of helping HIV+ children lead a cheerful, healthful and gracious life ahead. Any monetary contribution is appreciated, and there are exciting rewards for those extending a support of more than Rs.500. Even if you cannot extend a monetary support, share the campaign link with your family, friends, colleagues and everybody around to spread the word and help Nandini to FightRed!