Securing the future of children who have been discriminated against since birth – children with HIV/AIDS
My visit to the Jaipur-based Positive Women’s Network of Rajasthan started at home for orphaned boys. Located in a surprisingly quiet neighbourhood, it stands right next to their second care home, which is the one for girl children. Currently, 35 children (25 boys and 10 girls) between 4-18 years stay at these homes. A majority of these children are HIV positive; a few who are not have been orphaned due to HIV. Between the homes, there is a team of 15 staff, some are even HIV positive themselves.
The Positive Women Network of Rajasthan (PWNR) was founded in 1958 by a group of HIV positive women, but officially registered only in 2006. All the founding women had suffered bad experiences with current help centres; they had witnessed how women were being exploited by the men who were running these charitable centres. Being HIV positive themselves, they felt that only they truly understood what fellow patients were going through. They thus decided to start up their own NGO to care for these women and their children in a safe environment.
As its name signifies, PWNR mission is to ensure social justice, equality and protection of human rights of PLHAs through universal access of health, education, nutrition, rehabilitation and social security services. They wish to evolve HIV/AIDS friendly policies, schemes and programs to reduce victimization/stigmatization of women and children living with the disease.
PWNR welcomes volunteers from all backgrounds to come and work with the organisation and experience the day to day life of affected children. Volunteers usually assist staff with everyday duties including dressing the children for school, cooking their meals or taking them for outings. Past volunteers have also conducted research while at the NGO and formed reports on the topics of HIV infected children or creating awareness about the disease. During my visit I met an American and an Australian girl who had come for one month to volunteer at the organisation. They were thoroughly enjoying their time there and loved playing with the children and trying to campaign with local groups to raise awareness on AIDS discrimination. If interested, get in touch with them at firstname.lastname@example.org.