CM inaugurates home for HIV kids

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 4.08.12

Aug. 3: Though at first sight it never strikes you that these playful young children are HIV-positive and have lost one or both parents to AIDS, one thing is apparent — they are happy; happy to have finally found a home that is far away from the stigma associated with their condition.

The Kasturi Special Care Home, a shelter for HIV-infected and affected orphans, is where five kids will reside from today.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today inaugurated the home at a function organised here by the Assam State AIDS Control Society and Assam Network of Positive People (ANP+). State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was also present.

The state government launched a new scheme for the state’s HIV-infected and affected widows, who will receive a one-time financial aid of Rs 1 lakh.

Gogoi handed over the amount to five women during the function.

Till date, 330 people have lost their lives to AIDS in the state and the families of all these individuals will receive the financial aid.

“While more HIV-infected people now come forward to reveal their status, the stigma attached to the disease still persists in society. Just because a person suffers from a disease, we cannot allow it to rob him or her of the right to lead a dignified life. With this aim, our government has established this shelter for HIV-infected and affected orphans so that we can provide them good food, shelter as well as education. We will ensure that these kids are provided a secured and loving atmosphere that will boost their all-round development in every manner,” Gogoi said.

Though the home has the capacity to house 20-25 children, only five will reside in it for starters.

“There are about 72 HIV-infected children in the state who have acquired the disease from their parents. Many of their parents have succumbed to the disease, as a result of which they have no one to take care of them. We have named this shelter after Kasturi Goswami, the first child who lost her life to AIDS. Likewise, there are many women who have been unknowingly infected by their husbands. After losing their husbands, most of these women are having a tough time making ends meet without a job. The financial aid of Rs 1 lakh will help them start a livelihood of their own,” Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

“At present, there are an estimated 14,000 HIV-positive people in the state. Over 6,000 have been identified and the process is on to identify the rest who will be provided with all facilities for treatment,” Sarma added.

“I am very glad that a shelter home for HIV-positive children has finally come into being. This is a step ahead in our fight against the disease. The needs of the children will be well taken care of here and they will be able to grow amidst much love and care,” said Jahnabi Goswami, mother of Kasturi.

Gogoi also urged the public to sponsor such children so that they, too, have access to all facilities enjoyed by other kids. “While the government will discharge its responsibilities, the public, too, should cooperate to allow these orphaned kids to live a good life. People can come forward to donate food, clothing as well as financial aid for the education of children living in this home. We also have plans to start a shelter home for HIV-infected and affected women soon,” the chief minister said.