01-12-2017 01:00 PM | Aastha Dogra
Orphaned children affected with HIV/AIDS live a positive life
According to a study in the British Medical Journal (2010), there are about 1.4 to1.6 million people infected with HIV/AIDS in India. Out of these, a huge number is that of children, especially those who have lost their parents to the deadly disease. Due to the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS in India, it becomes immensely difficult for such children to live the life of a regular child. There are certain organizations who aim to provide shelter and rehabilitate these children. Sparsh Balgram is one of such organizations, a non-profit located in Pune, which undertakes care and rehabilitation of children infected with HIV/AIDS.
Mahesh Yadav, the founder of Sparsh got married to a twenty-year-old orphan girl, Sujata, whose parents had died due to AIDS. They both lived in Satara, a small village in Maharashtra, at that time. Due to their lack of awareness, the villagers assumed that Mahesh and his wife will contract AIDS too and spread it everywhere. Both Mahesh and his wife were thus thrown out of the village. This incident moved Mahesh to a very large extent. Soon, he started working for NGOs at Pune and decided to open SPARSH (Shelter & Rehabilitation Center for HIV/AIDS infected children’s)
Till date, Sparsh has rehabilitated about 250 children, by looking after their physical, mental, emotional, educational and financial needs. Funding for the non-profit comes partly from the government, private sector and some good Samaritans. Although, it’s not always enough to meet ends, yet, for Mahesh and Sujata, the smile their love and care brings to the faces of these children matters a lot so they somehow manage in whatever funds they have at their disposal.
Sparsh works for the welfare of the children, by providing them with a good education, health and nutrition. Children are also provided with vocational training so that they can earn and work like others. The aim of Sparsh is to maximize the children’s potential and enable them to become self-sufficient.
According to Mahesh Yadav, although he does his best to offer a comfortable home environment to the orphaned children affected with HIV/AIDS at Sparsh, yet it is the children who have taught him lessons on how to live life positively. The children at Sparsh are aware of their disease and fight with it on a daily basis, still, they always smile and remain happy, giving lessons of love to all those around them.