Last year, Maitri found a 95-year-old widow Kanchan Das living and begging on the streets of Radhakund, a small village a few kilometres outside of Vrindavan. The organization took her under their care and she sleeps on her own bed with a roof over her head today. Petite, with absolutely no ounce of fat on her, her bones stick out of her simple, white sari, which she wears without a blouse. It’s taken innumerable conversations to deduce that she’s been living off Vrindavan’s streets for the past 14 years. Yes, at the age of 81, when her husband passed away, Kanchan Maa, as she is fondly referred to by the Maitri staff, made her way from her village in West Bengal to Vrindavan.
While Maitri was officially registered in 2005, it all started in the year X. At that time, Col. Bhopinder Singh was working with the army, and was posted in Shillong, Assam. It was during his tenure here that his wife, Mrs. Winnie Singh came to learn that HIV/AIDS was quite prevalent among the civil population.As she delved deeper, trying to get a better understanding of the issue, she realized that the Government was aware of the magnitude of the problem. However, they had only put in minor efforts to combat its further spread; it was being tackled in a similar manner that the Northeast drug problem was being tackled.