Sometimes before the disease it’s the discrimination that kills a person, not only physically but also mentally, emotionally and psychologically. On many occasions it happens with those who are living with HIV. Discrimination is almost akin to the one’s suffering from leprosy. Thus, combating this mental sickness becomes a challenge for the humanitarian organizations and governments alike.
Nashik District Branch of the Indian Red Cross Society has stepped a way forward by launching the one of its kind, the Self Help Group (SHG) named as Jeevanjyoti of PLHIV comprising of twelve members. This initiative has resulted in efforts by the members of the group to generate funds by all possible means. Substantial sum of money has been deposited in a bank. It has opened vistas of opportunity for the group members. Now they are taking loan to have their own vocation, starting small-scale business and funds are available for contingencies.
Amol Kulkarni, Nashik District Project Co-ordinator, Youth Peer Education Programme, who is the initiator of Jeevanjyoti says, ‘By forming a Self Help Group (SHG), we aim at economic empowerment of PLHIV and helping them in finding better ways of livelihood. With our efforts we have just got trained some of the members in making diyas, sky lamps etc. which they would sell during Diwali period. That’s not all, some are now empowered to provide catering services during our YPEP activities and elsewhere. We are helping them to be self-sustainable’.
Rajeshwari Pagar, Nashik District Counselor and an expert on SHG says, ‘Safeguarding the rights of PLHIV is a challenge. We address the needs of the members of Jeevanjyoti and help them in raising their self-esteem. The Self Help Group is a result of a series of deliberations, meetings and trainings, which have happened in the last two months. If the success of this model is sustained, it shall be replicated in other programme districts, namely Pune and Kolhapur.
|The district branch also conducts interactive sessions for PLHIV with the community people under anti-stigma and discrimination activities. Street plays are organized wherein HIV positive people play the role of negatives and vice-versa. Dandiyas are also organized for bringing laughter and cheer to their lives.
Indian Red Cross Society is running youth peer education programme, care and support at Bel-Air hospital and a special capsule on stigma and discrimination with the support of German Red Cross in three districts of Maharashtra.
Awareness generation against stigma and discrimination forms an integral part of IRCS HIV/AIDS programme. On World AIDS Day, Voluntary Blood donation Day and other occasions special focus is given to this social menace. Street plays, rallies and skits are used to spread awareness amongst the communities to allow PLHIV with dignity.