Imagine yourself or any little girl you know growing up in the slums, to an HIV positive sex worker mother and a father who died from AIDS. That is Afreen’s story. She was born in the slums of Bangalore lacking food, clean water, and other basic necessities. It was no wonder that her health was poor. Afreen was also barely literate. School was a luxury when every ounce of energy went into survival. She was surrounded by a world of scorn, rejection, and dismay due to the stigma of her parents’ illnesses. The thirteen-year-old girl was left to raise herself and look after her unwell mother. Afreen’s life was a struggle for dignity – something which eludes every slum dweller, especially if HIV/AIDS is involved.
During this time of despair, Afreen met a social worker that was visiting the slum sex community. The social worker brought Afreen to Baale Mane. Baale Mane, The Kiran Anjali Project’s newest partner, is a home for orphaned, semi-orphaned, and abandoned girls living in poverty. Afreen found a safe haven at Baale Mane where she received nutritious meals, health check-ups, and a high quality education. She made friends and received respect. The transition from a life burdened with the harrowing social stigma of AIDS to a life of dignity was incredible. The frail, socially discarded child found a life and a future at Baale Mane. Afreen is now 19 and goes to junior college thanks to a Plus2 Scholarship provided by The Kiran Anjali Project. She is an avid chess player, is bright and extremely caring, and makes a fantastic role model for the younger girls at Baale Mane. The forbearing shadow of AIDS is gone and forgotten.
Children with HIV/AIDS in India battle social stigma along with the disease itself. Infected children do not get admission in schools. Children who lose parents to AIDS are not taken in by their own relatives, and are often left to beg on the streets. It is estimated that India currently has 5.1 million people living with AIDS, second in the world only to South Africa. AIDS-related orphaning has not been documented in India; however, it is estimated that the country has the highest number of AIDS orphans in the world, and that number is expected to double.* More children like Afreen will be living on the streets in despair, abandoned by family and community.
At Baale Mane there are several girls like Afreen who have been rescued from this hell and are now dreaming of becoming doctors, engineers, and artists. Afreen, having been given a new life, hopes to work in the civil service one day. Imagine this was you. Imagine getting a new dignified start in life, full of possibilities. The bright future of Afreen and the other children is only possible because of your generous support. Thank you!
If you would like to help more needy children realize their full potential consider donating today.