| The house of Anita: The orphanage run by Sisters of Charity at Padri ki Haveli. Picture by Sachin |
Patna, Nov. 30: Anita Kumari (name changed), like many children, loves to play with her dolls. The three-year-old girl, however, is hardly ever the recipient of the kind of love she showers on her playthings.
For, Anita is the only surviving child of Sushila Devi (name changed) who died of AIDS at Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) on November 19. Anita, however, is neither a patient of the disease that claimed her mother nor is she infected with HIV. Yet the stigma associated with AIDS has alienated her from people.
An employee at NMCH said: “People always want to keep a distance from AIDS patients. But how can you keep away from children? Many people — especially social workers — queued up when Sushila was hospitalised. But when she died, no one came to see her daughter. This means that Sushila’s ‘well-wishers’ were only here to gain publicity. Once she died, they just vanished. They don’t care for Anita.”
Not everyone, however, nurtures prejudices. Anita has been adopted by Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, an orphanage run by Sisters of Charity from the premises of Padri ki Haveli.
Anita has not only found shelter and education but also love. She needs it too, for the tender-aged girl is slowly recovering from the shock of her mother’s demise.
Sister Nirma Rose, superior, Nirmala Shishu Bhavan said: “We are happy that Anita is with us today. We will take care of her, like we care for other children at our orphanage. The aim of our mission is to help deprived children.”
A source said Anita’s mother was employed in a brick plant at Didargang in Patna City. She was hospitalised after she met with an accident. During the course of her treatment, it was revealed that she was suffering from AIDS.
After the death of her mother, Anita continued to live on the hospital premises as no one turned up to claim her. A few days later, Sister Rose came to NMCH and approached the authorities to take her to the orphanage.
Sister Rose said the orphanage has taken over the responsibility of Anita’s education. The girl started to attend school last Monday. She is, however, not like the other children in her class.
“She is a very quiet child, probably because of the shock of the death of her mother. We are sure that Anita will recover soon. We will give her all the love and support she needs. It is good for her to be in the company of other children. That will help her recover fast,” said Sister Rose.
The hope of a new family and the love of foster parents may not be a distant dream for the girl. “We will try for Anita’s adoption in future. It will be good if she gets the love of a family. We know we can care for the deprived children. But we can’t provide them the love of a family and parents. That is also very important for a child’s overall development,” said Sister Rose.
Let’s hope a bright future for Anita as we mark World AIDS Day tomorrow.