Enlight project ensures the well-being of girl children infected/affected with HIV through education

Salem05 Apr, 2022

In Salem, the Enlight project is working with 220 girls who are infected/affected by HIV/AIDS. The project is building their confidence and preventing them from dropping out of school. Many of them are now pursuing higher education.

Tamil Nadu is one of the six high HIV prevalence states in India. In India, the highest numbers of AIDS cases are reported from Chennai, Namakkal, Salem, Vellore, Dindigul, and Trichy. Children with HIV often face discrimination and stigma from their peers and neighbors. Illness and frequent trips to ART centers are causing children to lose motivation, and they miss school. Often, these children drop out of school. 

The Enlight project was initiated in Salem, in 2015, to provide access and quality education to girl children infected/affected by HIV/AIDS. The project is directly implemented by AEA with the support of the Salem District Network of Positive People (SNP+). The project supports 220 children/families that are spread across Salem.  

A strategically located Child Support Center (CSC) assists girls in developing age-appropriate learning capabilities, skills in reading, writing, and basic arithmetic, and helps develop analytical skills, soft skills, and life skills for holistic development, which will make it possible for them to pursue a better life through education. In addition to providing psychosocial support, the program links them with various government programs.

Poverty makes it impossible for many families to provide proper nutrition, which is necessary for survival. As an alternative, Aide et Action is promoting kitchen gardening in the households of families of girl children. More and more families are taking up kitchen gardening as a way to supplement their daily nutrition needs while saving money.

Over time and with effort, the girls’ competence has steadily increased. The girls now take part actively in academics and co-curricular activities at school. The last few years have seen 59 girls graduate from high school and pursue higher education. Our advocacy efforts have led to the district administration providing free education to these girls in their choice of courses.

The COVID pandemic hit families hard as jobs and livelihoods were lost. At that time, AEA provided ration kits to these families and advocated with the government to provide ART medicines without delay. In terms of education, the project ensured that children attended online classes on a regular basis and provided virtual counseling support to ensure their well-being and continued learning.

A collaborative effort of Capgemini and Aide et Action, Enlight aims towards a better future for 2000 girl children living in difficult circumstances through ‘Education’. Operational in nine cities, Enlight engages with a specific group of girls in each city, Bengaluru – Muslim Girls, Chennai – Girls from Adi Dravida Community (Dalit), Delhi – Girls from migrant families, Hyderabad – Girls with disabilities, Kolkata – Girl child of women sex workers, Mumbai – Girls from families engaged in waste picking, Pune – Girls from De-notified Communities (Waghri and Sikligars), Salem – Girls infected/affected by HIV and AIDS and Trichy – Girls from community-engaged in Manual Scavenging.