If you spend a day at GLPS Vaderahalli, you would believe it to be like any other school. One wouldn’t know, if not told, that out of the 95 students enrolled here, 45 are living with HIV/AIDS. These children are orphaned, having lost their parents to the disease, and are cared for by a charitable trust which has them residing in a hostel close to the school.
A simple act of kindness can have an enormous impact on the lives of those that need to endure sickness. Vaderahalli village’s locals, who are well aware that these children are affected with HIV/AIDS, not only ensure that their own kids are educated in the same government school, but also help the Trust in any way they can. This is a testimony of progressiveness which proves that those affected by a grave disease can be a part of mainstream society, and that baseless discriminations for them to be shunned do not need to exist.
Unfavourable circumstances do not stop them from dreaming up a grand future. Sindhu R, a 5th standard student, whose mother became the sole breadwinner of the family after her father’s death, wants to be an engineer. Her classmates Sowmya and Sowbhagya want to be lawyers.
At the age of ten, these children already direct their focus on academics and extra-curricular activities, and their teacher R. Basavaraja guarantees they will succeed at anything they attempt to achieve. He dotes on the children and cares for them like they were his own.
Students take delight in lunchtime, eating midday meals provided to them by Akshaya Patra, which not only satisfies their daily nutritional requirements, but also instils the value of equality within them.
“They love the food that is provided to them. Even the parents are so happy their children receive the nutrition they need. Sihi pongal is their favourite dish,” Basavaraja said.
The act of eating meals together in school may seem inconsequential to some, but in reality it implants deep-seated values in children, so they can grow up to be open-minded adults and help overcome the social stigmas we face today.
Triggering a change in the way society functions is easier when you have a model to emulate, but the real challenge lies in choosing to be the first to break free of taboos. This can be initiated by one person, but it takes the involvement of others to take it forward to completion.
The charitable trust, Vaderahalli’s locals and teachers, and Akshaya Patra are united by a collective purpose to rid society of discrimination by inculcating a feeling of togetherness in our children.