(Home for HIV Infected Children)
“It is not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your Years”
- Abraham Lincoln
The genesis of the concept of MAYA Home was born out of a bitter and sad experience of the Director of Tdh CORE Trust. He had come upon a woman, who appeared to have a severe health problem, together with her child on the roadside and initiated a discussion with her, but she did not respond and went away. The next day he came to know that the woman had passed away and her child was abandoned, so after the necessary procedures were completed, the abandoned child was admitted into one of the Tdh CORE children’s homes. However, during a medical check up it was diagnosed that the girl was HIV Positive. From this experience, the Director had a clear vision to establish the MAYA Home for HIV infected children, which reached fruition in February 2003.
India has the third largest number of HIV infected persons in the World. There are many issues which arise including social stigma and problems faced by the HIV infected person in relation to health issues and in many cases, a generally shorter life span. In addition, after the demise of HIV infected parents, often their children are abandoned, sometimes because they too are HIV Positive through their parents.
From its inception in 2003, the MAYA Home in Tiruvannamalai has dedicated itself to providing the best of care and a happy and healthy life to the HIV infected children, both male and female. The home provides the children with a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutritious, tasty and healthy food (fruits, pulses, meat, fish, grains and eggs), which assists the children in fighting the HIV virus. The children are monitored around the clock by a live in professional nurse who provides and administers medication, on the spot treatment where required and who takes them for regular health checks and periodical treatments at the appropriate specialised institutions. In addition, the important elements of hygiene and a clean environment is taken care of by the resident care taker/house mother. To provide the children with entertainment opportunities, the Home has a television, DVD with Home Theatre System, DTH Connection, games, toys, books, trampoline, and they have access to numerous activities, including yoga, dance training, and sports. The Home itself is situated within a green and peaceful environment containing beautiful gardens and a children’s playground.
After eleven years of service, around 100 children have been provided with a happy life at MAYA Home. MAYA is now operating three units:
- MAYA Home itself provides for the younger children who are HIV Positive. At present it has 18 female children and seven male children
- MDM Boys Home provides care for 14 older adolescent boys above the age of 14 years.
- CASA RANA Home provides for an integrated life of HIV infected children with normal children, so they are not stigmatised or labelled as a health risk. It caters for adolescent female children. In this Home there is presently four HIV Positive adolescent girls and twenty seven normal healthy girls living together as a family.
“HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug: Heaven knows they need it”.
A recent example of the impact of MAYA Home is found in the story of Karthiga and Vijay who were admitted into MAYA Home on 27 February 2014. Their mother passed away from AIDS on 1 March 2014. Their family history revealed that their mother, Kannammal, came from Tiruvannamalai and after marrying her husband and delivering her daughter, Karthiga, they separated following a family dispute. The mother then met a man in Andhra, who was infected with HIV which he transmitted to her. After he passed away due to AIDS, leaving the family with no income, the mother started begging in front of the Thirupathy temple. Eventually she decided to resettle in her home town and came to Tiruvannamalai 10 days before she passed away. None of her relatives accepted her and the children and she was admitted to hospital for treatment, but did not survive. Thus, the children were homeless and abandoned with no family to take care of them. Without MAYA Home taking them in and providing for them, their future would have been very bleak.