Building back lost lives
Infected with HIV/AIDs and Tuberculosis, 15-year-old Jasmine, a 9th class student of Jayarani Matriculation Higher Secondary school was forced to drop out due to stigma and health issues. She lost her mother. Her father remarried but stopped taking care of her due to which she was forced to earn for herself. She worked from home and earned a meager amount on daily wage basis for pasting decorative stones on sarees which was insufficient. Jasmine struggled to make both ends meet.
The project team had met her in 2015. Observing her situation included her in the project and immediately linked Jasmine to medical support for tuberculosis. It took 6 months for her to recuperate both mentally and physically. The team regularly kept in touch with her, monitored her progress and motivated her. Realising her interest in studies, they persuaded her father to support her and after much persuasion and counseling, he finally agreed. Following her recovery, she was enrolled back in 9th class at the Government Higher Secondary school, Moongapadi, Salem. Though she had lost touch the team is unfailingly supporting her to bridge the gap. Jasmine has developed a sense of hope and desire to win and is working hard with her lessons.
Tamil Selvi’s husband was a mason who stopped working after being infected by HIV/AIDS. They lived in a rented house and with no stable income, struggled to pay the monthly rent of INR1500 and to fulfill their daily needs. Soon depression set in and Tamil Selvi lost hope and interest in everything, Often she failed to cook food and feed her children on time. This came to light after Gowri, daughter of Tamil Selvi joined the project and was a 7th class student in the Amma Palayam government-aided school.
On learning the situation at Gowri’s home, the team met and counseled her parents, especially Tamil Selvi. Following this, the team mobilized funds from Dr.Thyphagne Memorial Charitable Trust (DTMC) and helped Tamil Selvi to set up a small shop. This boosted hope and morale within the family. The team regularly visited the family and also linked them up to e-counseling. Gradually, the team observed positive changes in the family. They were now able to pay the rent regularly and meet their daily expenses. Gowri never went empty stomach. Whenever Tamil Selvi felt low, she used to connect with the team member over the phone and share her worries and each time the response and support of the team helped her to move ahead another step with confidence! Gowri too has improved well in her competencies in reading, writing, and mathematics. She is now more confident and able to keep up in pace with the school.
It was not only poverty that the team had to address within the families, but lost hope, despair, fear and many a times the unwillingness to live! Stigma, health issues, fears of death, hopelessness and having no clue about future, are challenges faced by these families. Children are the worst affected! The Enlight team based in Salem grapples with extreme situations in their endeavor to support 220 girl children and their families. Each moment and each day is a challenge for the team!
The Salem district network of positive people (SNP+) and its team of volunteers have been a crucial support for the ENLIGHT Project and many a time it has been their timely support that has helped the team to deal with difficult situations.
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