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community leader takes a brave step forward to lead his community towards
greater love and acceptance for people living with HIV. And in the process, a
young girl’s life is changed forever.
had given up hope’ Vijay* is a community leader in a small village
in the state of Rajasthan in India. The stigma of HIV was a reality that
everyone in the community grappled with, but Vijay felt unequipped to respond to
such need. They had given up hope of ever being able to help those affected by
family affected by discrimination was that of 10-year-old Bhavana* and her
brother, whose parents died in quick succession from AIDS-related illnesses.
Even close relatives abandoned the children due to the prevailing culture of
stigma in the community.
of proper care resulted in Bhavana falling ill. She was later diagnosed to be
HIV positive. After knowing her status, her elder brother left her alone to fend
for herself with no support. She was no longer allowed to attend school. Many in
her community believed that Bhavana would die soon, so it was pointless to take
any effort to treat her.
out Vijay was given the opportunity to attend some community
development training organised by Tearfund partner EFICOR (Evangelical
Fellowship of India Commission on Relief), which enabled him to realise his
responsibility as a leader towards marginalised and vulnerable individuals
within his community.
thought that taking care of the larger community where I live was also part of
my leadership role,’ Vijay explains. The training challenged his deeply-held
beliefs, and consequently he reached out to Bhavana, so that she wouldn’t end up
like her parents.
along with other members of his community, took Bhavana to a medical centre for
treatment. They were alongside her throughout the whole process, and also helped
her to have a balanced diet after learning the importance of nutrition for
people infected with HIV.
Vijay found Bhavana’s aunt and explained to her how a person infected with HIV
can lead a healthy life. Thanks to the training he had received, he was able to
break down the myths surrounding HIV and counselled her to take care of Bhavana
well. Through the effort of Vijay, Bhavana is in school again and is slowly
getting back to a leading a normal life with her aunt.
changed to protect identity
for the work of EFICOR; that Vijay’s attitude was changed and that his community
has been transformed as a result.
more leaders like Vijay will rise up in nations where there is still stigma
attached to HIV.
Bhavana; that she will live a long, healthy and full
among several community leaders who have realised that their leadership role
involves taking care of their entire community. Community transformation
trainings are leaving a lasting change in the lives of people in extreme