Samraksha has been working with different village communities in North Karnataka, and recently engaged in a reflective perspective building process using the self-assessment framework.
Communities dream about being an inclusive society. They want to create a society where there is no stigma, where people with HIV are treated as others, and are able to publicly disclose their status, without any fears and seek support from others. These are some inspiring stories
Basappa's story :
Frequently people may discriminate because of fear or inadequate knowledge. But they can also deeply regret their actions. This regret and repentance spurs them to reach out and make a difference in others lives.
One of Basappa’s friends tested positive for HIV. After this became known in the community, Basappa gradually started moving away from his friend. He did not want to be involved with him in any way. Basappshared that one of his very good friends was diagnosed with HIV. Following this, Basappa had gradually started moving away from his friend.When he was admitted in hospital, his friend repeatedly sent word that he wanted to talk to him, but he was hesitant to go. He was scared of catching the illness from his friend, and was also scared that just by being seen in the hospital with him, people would think he himself had HIV. So he never visited till his friend passed away.
Basappa deeply regrets his behavior now. According to him, “I had made a big mistake, who know what my friend wanted to discuss with me when he called me. Now I will not do the same. There are three people living with HIV here, I go talk to them, sit with them. I help them.” Basappa is an active volunteer who supports the different affected people, specially to reach services.
Lakshmamma's story :
Very often it is just one single small act of acceptance and inclusion which make a difference for people.
Lakshmamma, a widow with two children was shunned by all the people in her village because of her HIV status, and her husband’s death. The villagers not only isolated her, but also actively discouraged anyone from supporting her or even talking to her. When one of Samraksha team visited her house, Lakshmamma’s neighbor stopped her and asked her what she was doing there. This opened up an opportunity to discuss with the neighbor about Lakshmamma’s condition. The very next day there was a cradle ceremony in the neighbor’s house to which they invited Lakshmamma and her children. This encouraged Lakshmamma to come forward and share her story with the community. She spoke of how overjoyed she was to receive the invitation to a function in the neighboring house. Lakshmamma’s story inspired the community enormously, and they welcomed her back into the community.
Disclosure in groups :
Public disclosure about HIV status can be a powerful tool for galvanizing the community to support of pledge support for people living with HIV, specially in an atmosphere, where the groups are already starting to think in a sympathetic way about people living with HIV.
In a group session, Hanumanthappa, a participant spoke about being accepting of people with HIV. According to him, “All of you say you have to be accepting. Even these people from Samraksha have come to say the same thing. But who has done it. I have actually done it. I am supporting my brother who has HIV, I give him food and shelter”
Hearing about this, the entire group was moved. They came forward to support Hanumanthappa and his family, and vowed that they will support any other person who is living with HIV in their village. To this day, people in the village are very supportive of the people with HIV. Youth bring them to clinics on their motorbikes, they help them access services, and support them in other daily routine activities.