Village communities in Karnataka, India, supporting those among them with HIV>

In many of the villages where Samraksha is involved with the communities, after the completion of , people have spoken about people they knew, sometimes their relatives who have had HIV and how they would like to help them and other people like them, and they now knew how to help them.

One woman spoke amidst much tears about her son, who had died due to HIV 10 years ago. She said she had cared for her son, when his wife had left him at the mothers house. SHe had bathed him, fed him and looked after him in all ways, but he finally succumbed. She said she wished medicines had been available at that time to help him. Today, if she knew anybody who had HIV, she would definitely ask them to go and get medicines.

Another man spoke about his friend. After his friend's wife knew he had HIV, she kept him seperate in the house. Even when he wanted to see his children, she wouldnt allow him to. When he came to know about his friends condition, he felt bad for his friend, and bravely went to his house, even though he was scared that he may get infected. He supported his friend in many ways. He shaved him, bathed him, visited him everyday till his death. After that, he got scared that he may have got HIV and got tested. The man now felt better that he knew HIV could not spread through casual contact.

Members of a woman's self help group shared that when one of their members became sick. they took her to many doctors, and finally found she had HIV. They put in their own money and took her to a bigger hospital, some distance away. But she did not get well and finally died. The members shared that now that they knew about services like ART, they would definitely send people to these places.

In one village, the community shared about a young couple in the village. They had seemed well, but suddenly the husband fell sick and died. later the wife also died. They had HIV. The two children are in the care of the grandmother. The community said that they always thought the children will have the infection and not long to live. But now they knew with good nutrition people with HIV can live for a long time. So they said they would all try to support the grandmother to give good food to the children.

A woman shared about her cousin, whose husband died three months after her marraige. She returned to her mother's house. The community never knew she had HIV, she was normal, used to work and talk. She continued taking medicines and services, and lived for 10 years after that. The woman shared that had her cousin been alive, she would have really appreciated this process and taken part in it.

Another older woman spoke about a young couple, who were her tenants. They had seemed well, but then suddenly the husband fell sick, and later the wife also died. They had HIV. She said she wished she had known about services like ART then, maybe she could have helped them. In future, she would definitely send people to these services.

Like this in many villages, people have known and continue to interact with people with HIV. They have cared for them to the best of their abilities. Now, with a greater understanding of what they could do to help people with HIV, they are eager to help, by referring to services, and by supporting them in other ways .

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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on February 13, 2010 at 10:45pm
Dear Arun,

Thanks for these beautiful stories of human capacity to love and care. Did the SHG get support from community leaders and other community members including their own family?

I love this quote from Mother Theresa- It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.

Best wishes,

Rituu
Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on February 12, 2010 at 11:25am
All your wonderful stories illustrate the power of local responses. People have the capacity to act, to care and change.
Many thanks!
JL
Comment by Gaston on February 11, 2010 at 6:39pm
Arun, your blog shows well the human aspect behind 'the numbers and figures'. These are the everyday realities in many places. When reading it I can feel my own human feelings are touched. The support of a community is so critical to improve the quality of live of those infected and affected. Let's nourish that capacity of care. Thank you

Gaston
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on February 11, 2010 at 6:30pm
Thanks for sharing these beautiful stories Arun. Samraksha is doing a great job in providing a space for people to share and open up about what they carry or carried on their shoulders for all this time.
Do you see that when other people from the community are present during these discussion, that this stimulates a better understanding from them as well? Would this be a practice that stimulates inclusion?

Laurence

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