In August 2002 we became involved with HIV patients by reaching out to our house maid, Laxmi, and her family when she, her husband and two year old daughter were found to be HIV positive. As word of mouth spread, many poor and destitute families began to come to us seeking help.
India has the third largest number of HIV patients in the world-2.1 million people living with HIV. Overall, India’s epidemic is slowing down. Between 2010-2017 new infections declined by 27% and AIDS related deaths more than halved. However, in 2017 new infections increased from 80,000 to 88,000. And AIDS related deaths increased from 62,000 to 69,000. 50 percent of the new infections are among the age group between 15 and 24 years of age.
Superstitions as well as social stigma and shame attached to the disease add to the problems of poverty and illiteracy. As a result women and children living in India with HIV face huge medical, psychological and social challenges.
In a small yet significant way, Ark is making a difference in the lives of widows and orphans who are affected/ infected by HIV/AIDS.
We identify needy widows, council them and get them tested. Following that, those who test positive are taken to free Govt clinics for medication.
‘Ashirvad’ means blessing! At each Ashirvad Family Day, the patients are blessed as they are received with the love and compassion. During the gathering, they receive counseling and financial help for nutrition. These who have experienced rejection from family and friends find acceptance in this fellowship and their hearts are open to one another and hope is renewed.
Over the years several have received self support projects like buffaloes, goats, small shops etc. which has helped them to an extent to earn their livelihood.