Nagercoil derives its name from a temple located in the town. With windmills and coconut groves everywhere, it is situated on the coastal side of Kanyakumari, a 20 kms drive alongside the Bay of Bengal.
We walked into one of the coconut groves which was a kilometer ahead. There was no road but just a pathway created by the family I was visiting. It was an amazing walk amidst jackfruit trees, small river streams etc. But the family I was visiting, I soon learnt, was living on the edge. The land doesn’t belong to anyone, anytime they may be questioned and asked to leave.
Revathy, a young lady in her 30s, guided us into her house. Revathy has two kids – one boy and a girl. Revathy is HIV positive. She didn’t know her husband was infected until she was carrying her second girl child, and a blood test revealed the unfortunate news. The doctors were refusing to attend to her nor were they telling her the reason. She was baffled. Questioning the doctors and asking them for the reason didn’t help.
Finally one of the nurses took her to another room where her name was displayed on a board which carried all the names of those who were HIV positive.
Revathy used to have frequent altercations with her husband. He was an alcoholic and a lowly paid lorry driver and never used to take care of the family.
When CSR social workers were conducting a survey near her house, one of them gave her a patient hearing and stood by her during her fight. “Without that person, I would’ve given up. He told me he was with me and kids and I can live happily and support my kids even with the virus.”
He got her a job as a volunteer at CSR for a salary of Rs. 1,000 and then she later moved to another job.
Her house used to have a thatched roof. Whenever it rained, the entire house used to flood. “We used to have no place to sleep,” says Revathy.
CSR then supported her with Rs. 5,000 with which she bought an asbestos sheet as a roof for her house. “When my father was around, he used to make a thatched roof. Now, even he isn’t there and I was too weak to build one. I used to run around to buy one and it is expensive,” adds Revathy.
Said another beneficiary who wished to remain anonymous, “If this support wasn’t provided to me by CSR, then like my husband, I would’ve left for my heavenly abode too”. She had a son and two girls, out of which one is infected with HIV along with her.
CSR nutrition kit consists of Cereals, Raagi etc. “I have put on some weight and I feel healthier” explains the daughter.
CSR provides not just material support but also moral and emotional support. This organization stands by its vision ‘to help them develop themselves’.