Aida is a mother of three, whose family has been ripped apart by HIV/AIDS. The stigma surrounding the condition in India, like many countries, still makes life difficult for people who are HIV positive.
However, things began to change for Aida and her family when she got involved with a programme for people living with HIV/AIDS, supported by Plan International UK.
“Ours is a poor family of five members. We have two daughters and a son. My husband died of AIDS and I was also infected by him. When my husband died we ended up in a very miserable condition financially, socially and emotionally.
“Later we were further dejected to find out that both my second daughter and son were also infected by HIV. We were treated like outcasts by our relatives and the community.
“We were in a very desolate situation, with not a single person treating us as human beings. We were so dejected that we had no other thought than to end our lives as no one showed us the least concern or tried to understand our situation.
“It was at this point of time that one of the health change agents promoted by Plan International explained about the various types of support we could receive, like counselling, antiretroviral medicines, care and support and supply of nutritious supplementary food. It was at such a crucial moment that Plan International came to our rescue.
“After hearing about the programmes for People Living with HIV/AIDS, I enrolled myself into the network of PLWHA (People Living with HIV/AIDS) and started attending various counselling programmes. There I gained self-confidence.
“In order to strengthen this, Plan International gave me a loan to start a small business. The counselling they provided gave me the immense mental strength to face my life situation.
“With the help of a scholarship from Plan International, our elder daughter secured more than 900 marks in her intermediate exams and is getting free education in Andhra Pradesh Residential Junior College.
“When my second daughter, who is affected by HIV/AIDS, had to discontinue her studies and leave the school at grade 10 due social stigma, Plan intervened and spoke to the school management, helping her to continue her education. They had also extended financial support to buy a bicycle for her which enabled her to follow her studies.
“A year ago when I contracted TB, Plan International guided me to a nearby primary health centre to obtain medicines.
“I have not only become able to face the rough weather of life, but have begun to work as a peer educator to people affected by HIV/AIDS at the care and support centre. Today I stand as a role model to others who are suffering like me. I was able to help not only my family but also my community.
“Plan International brought meaning to my life. Now, I am able to bring a ray of hope to many lives either affected or infected by HIV/AIDS.”