Samrakshainspirations Blog
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Feb
08

Welcome to the inspirational journey. This is a space where we will share with you stories of the individuals and communities who have overcome odds and made a difference, to themselves, to their peers, and their society.

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Jul
26

See the sharing of a volunteer from Kalghatgi, in Dharwad district who speaks about giving timely support to save the life of a young man in the village, and then refusing the money which the grateful family offered him, because, for him “Saving the life was enough.”

Jul
13

Ramu is a young man from Koppal, who got an opportunity to understand about HIV, when he and his friends put up a streetplay in their village on that issue. Much later, when he chanced to come across a person who had died due to HIV and where the community was hesitating to even touch him, leave alone ensure a proper funeral, he spontaneously responded even though the person was a complete stranger, because he felt that it was a human right to have a decent funeral. His spontaneous actions convinced the rest of the community.

Hear his sharing in his own words.

Jul
05

Parvathamma is a SHG leader in her village. She used her influence and her position to support two women affected by HIV who were facing discrimination in her communities, and helped them lead a self-sufficient life.
Watch this video of Parvatamma’s sharing….

A brief summary of her sharing….

There was a young couple in my village who used to run a tea shop. The husband died of HIV and after that, no one would visit the shop or take tea from the wife. All of us members of the group, we decided to go visit the shop. At first, the women were hesitant to actually drink the tea. Someone said, if you are so convinced about the fact that nothing will happen to you, why dont you drink first. So I drank the tea first, and then everybody drank. There was an office nearby, and all the staff there, seeing this felt, if women can go and drink the tea there, why not us. So they also started going there. Her tea shop became popular again. Later, through the group we trained her in making some snacks also, to sell with the tea.

In another instance, the couple were weaving baskets. Again, when the husband died because of HIV, nobody would buy the baskets from the woman. From our group, we used to buy there, whenever there was a function or anything in our family. We also connected her to Asha Jyoti care centre. Finally, she decided to put her wares directly in the market rather than sell from home. Now she is living well with her children.

Apr
27

This is the story of a lady, a care volunteer, who was there to support a young man, when he discovered his HIV status. It is translated as closely as possible to her own narration of the experience.

I had taken my younger brother to the testing centre for HIV testing, before his wedding. There, there was another boy who had also come for HIV testing. He is from my village, but I did not know him very well. When the results were out, I could see from his face that his report was positive. He was totally shocked by the diagnosis. I went to him and he started talking to me. He was devastated to know that he was positive. He told me, ‘What us is this body to me now. Even my kidneys or my eyes can never be used by others. I dont see any purpose in life. I should die.”

We spoke for a long time. We discussed about his fiance, she was his sister’s daughter. She had tested negative. As we spoke, he felt that she should not be made to marry him. I also assured him that it was possible to live for a long time with HIV. I dont know how much he trusted or beleived me. But I did not let him be alone at that time, I was with him through the day, we went out and ate together. Later I took him to see the doctor. 

The doctor did proper counseling, and told him about HIV and how people could live with it. What the doctor said was the same as what I said, but now, he started believing in him. He accepted that it was possible to live with HIV. I felt that now he would not do something rash to himself, but at least start thinking of living. 


Apr
18

This is the story of a man who as a volunteer had helped a HIV positive woman get admitted to the care centre when she was very sick. He was motivated to help her, even though he was not in any way related to her, nor had any prior acquaintance with her. He made a promise to her that he would do her funeral in her own village. And he kept that promise, even though her entire family including her husband abandoned her, and did not even want to take part in her funeral.

This is the story of his experience, translated as closely as possible from his own sharing.

When we tried to support a lady in our village, her family asked “Who are you to come and support her?

We felt bad about it, but we said nothing. She and her husband had seperated a few years ago and he was married again. Her brothers lived in a nearby district.  We took her son’s address. Her son is in the same town, but he was not coming. He receives phone calls from us and keeps saying I will come, but he does not come.

Her neighbors had kept a pot outside from which she could drink water

The lady was suffering a lot and said just give me some poison. Let me die

She had not been taking medicines regularly. She could not come and take medicines every month.

Her in-laws were not taking any action to support her. Finally her neighbors came and said let’s do something. They went and brought her son from town.

We told him that he should take care of his mother. He agreed, and they got her ready to go to the centre. He simply brought her in the clothes she was wearing.

He got her in the car and left her here in Kustagi and went away.

The care centre staff saw her and took her to the ward and gave her medicines.She was very sick. Later they called told me that she had been left there. The son had actually agreed to take care of her in the centre. But he did not. He simply left her and went away.

When I met here here 5 days later, the lady cried to me. She said, “My son has left me and gone away.”

I tried to console her saying that people here would look after her.

She felt she was troubling the people at the centre. I reassured her that she will get better.

I spoke to her for some time, asked her what she wanted to eat, and then told the staff about it. She wouldn’t tell them what she would like to eat

She felt very bad that there was no one of her family with her. She asked me to go to her village and send somebody to look after her.

But there was no one to send. She felt very bad that she could hardly even walk, and even if she wanted to go to the bathroom, others had to support her.

I went back and tried to convince her family. But they were not interested. They said she was no longer their concern

I contacted her brother in Bellary, but he said he was busy with work and could not come.

I contacted her son again, but he was also not willing to come.

For three months she stayed here at the centre, after that she was able to walk a bit, eat on her own. She was better.

Then she had another worry. She asked me, where she will be buried after she dies.

I told her we will do it wherever you want us to do it.

She asked what if the centre people simply do it off here only.

I said they wont do that, don’t worry. They will inform me.

Whenever I call, they tell me about you.

She said I want to be buried in my village. If you do it, you will get ‘punya’. I reassured her that I will.

When she died, I conveyed the news to her husband. He said he had already cut all ties with her, and he did not want to be involved.

Her son was also way. We could not reach him.

When I asked her brothers, they said you do the funeral wherever you want to.

I felt very bad. But I had promised that her funeral will be in her village. So I took the body to her village

I went ahead with the funeral rites. Her son was not there, her husband was not willing to come.

Her brothers called then and asked if they have to come to Kushtagi for the funeral. I said, that I was doing the funeral in her village only

They asked, where will you stay. I said if I need to, I will simply stay in the bus stand.

They that after having come into their village, I should have at least a house to go to.

They said lets go and talk to the husband. I said I had already spoken to him, and he had said he did not want to be involved.

But they went and spoke to the husband

Her husband was angry. He said I have already refused to come, has this man brought you here to fight?

They said he did not bring us here, we brought him here.

He spoke disrespectfully to them for some time.But they said he has brought her body here for the funeral. How can you not be a part of it.

How can this person who has come specifically to do her funeral stay in the bus stand and do her funeral. They spoke to him for some time about respecting a dying person’s wish, about respecting the fact that she had once been his wife and they had spent some years of life together. Finally they convinced him and we carried out her funeral in the village only, just like I promised her.


				
Mar
15

For Rakshane Mahila Okkoota, the fact that one of their members was affected by stroke and had no one to support her or her family of two children meant not only that they come forward to support her, but also that they work with other people in her own village to ensure that her community is there to support her and her family. As they express it, “We would have helped her, but she does not live in our community. Why not try to make her own community come forward to support her. ”

They went to her community, spoke to different groups of people there, and eventually one family agreed to help the children, another volunteered to take her for her periodic doctor appointments. Thus the CBO was able to stimulate the community to take actions to support one of their own people. This is a powerful illustration of how the women in sex work are becoming involved in their communities and even representing various issues to the community.

 

 

Feb
24

Shruti is a young lady pursuing her college education. She lives with her family in her village. Shruti is studying to be a teacher. She says that in her capacity as a teacher, with a chance to influence young people, she will make sure she talks to them about non-discrimination, about acceptance, concern and care.

This conviction of Shruti is shaped by her personal experience. She has a  relative who is living with HIV. She had frequently heard other family members criticize the person, she herself was scared about HIV and whether she would catch it from him. One day, when she was in his house, she was served food by him. She had started eating it, before remembering that his HIV status. But now she was terribly scared that she herself was likely to have caught the infection from him. Her fears troubled her immensely, and she sought out a friend of hers, who was working in Samraksha, and who she felt could help her.

Shruti’s friend explained to her in detail about HIV and its transmission. Further, Shruti was also involved in the village perspective building process, where the entire community had an opportunity to openly discuss the issue of HIV. She also attended a volunteer training programme, which gave her an opportunity to further understand about HIV, and also be able to discuss this issue with others, clarify doubts and misconceptions which may frequently arise in society.

This experience made Shruti realize how insensitive she had been towards her relative, and how he must be suffering because of the behavior of her family members. She even spoke to her mother about this, and encouraged her mother to change her behavior and be more accepting. According to her, “I was lucky to understand my mistakes and change. I will, as a teacher, engage with young children and make sure they do not have the kind of fears and prejudices which I had”.

Jan
12

Lakshmamma works as a cook for the children’s bisioota (mid-day meal) scheme in her village. A few months ago, when the village community found out she was HIV positive, there were concerns about whether she should continue with her job. There was a strong opinion in the village that she should be asked to leave. Although some people felt this was wrong, the village leader decided to tell her to stop coming for the job.

Around this time, members from Asha Jyoti care centre (in Kustagi, Koppal district) visited the village. They were there as part of their plans for Community Action Day (organized around World AIDS Day). The team members had planned to visit some villages and start discussions on the questions of ‘should people living with HIV or their families deny themselves access to medicines, because they feared dishonor if the community found out about their status?’ What then is the role of community in ensuring people with HIV feel they can access medicines.

After being a part of these discussions, the community members started having doubts about their decision to ask Lakshmamma to leave. When the Asha Jyoti team heard about this situation, they shared with the village stories of other villages, where women had been similarly removed from this position but the community on reflection had changed their mind and reinstated them to the job. This convinced the community that they were about to do a big mistake. They decided to allow Lakshmamma to continue her job. The Panchayat leader personally visited her and assured her, ‘ Continue coming to work as long as you are upto it. We are not going to tell you to not work. You are already in difficulty. Why should we take away your job from you?’

Dec
23

Shivanna lives with his aging mother and two younger sisters. He has no father or any other family to support him. Recently, he and his family had a major shock, when his youngest sister was suddenly seized with an epileptic attack.

At this moment, Shivanna turned to help from his only source of support, Aptamitra, the CBO of the MSM community. Shivanna himself was a part of this community and therefore a member of the CBO. Immediately, the CBO came to the assistance of their gelaya (friend). They helped him take his sister to the government hospital. The hospital referred them to the OP section where they could see a specialist. But in this section, they demanded a huge amount for the treatment. The group protested, Shivanna had a card which verified that his family was below poverty line and therefore he had to have free access to health care in the government hospitals. But still the hospital was not willing to do it free. They finally said at least Rs. 3000 had to be paid before they would proceed with treatment. The group decided that the priority was to get the treatment started, hence they paid the amount.

After completing the treatment, the girl’s condition stabilized. Apthamitra took this opportunity to start their protest against the hospital, for demanding money for medical services to a BPL family. The protest was a long one, they spent over three days on it. But finally the hospital authorities saw the error of their ways. They apologized for their behavior and returned most of the money to the group. They also promised that in future, any member of their group could seek services from them and if they had the proper documentation and BPL card, they would be treated entirely free of cost, as was their entitlement.

Apthamitra, which literally means ‘A friend in need’ were just that for Shivanna, in his hour of need. Not only that, they were enterprising and sensitive and aware of their rights. They prioritized that the girl’s health was most important, and were able to between them generate money to meet the hospital’s demands. Yet they were also keenly aware of their rights and not willing to keep quiet about this instance. They demanded their rights, and ensured that the hospital would now practice what was they were required to , which is extend services free of cost to all families below poverty line.

 

Dec
07

Seeta is a classical musician. She was at Asha Jyoti Care Centre for people with HIV as a carer. She was there, not to care for her mother or father or any relative, but for her music teacher, the man to whom she owed her music. Her teacher was not even willing to tell her about his condition in the initial period, since he was so overcome by self stigma. But once she found out about it, she stood by him in his last days, despite his family’s disapproval.

Seeta gave her teacher complete attention and personal care in his last days. She fed him, helped him bathe, washed his clothes and cleaned his bed. Her care towards him became an example for all other carers in the centre. Each started thinking of what else they could do for their own loved ones. They were there with them, but could they do something to make them more comfortable. As one of the other carers, a son looking after his ailing mother expressed, “I was looking after my mother because I was expected to do it. I just did some things to help her. But here, this lady was doing something for her teacher. She was not expected to do it. She inspired me to do more things, more wholeheartedly for my mother.”

Seeta caring for her teacher was for her a personal act of concern and commitment to the man who had nurtured her talents. But her acts had the capacity to inspire so many more people, who want to emulate her. Even now, as her story is shared with others, people who have never met her or witnessed her care are pushed to think, “What else can I do for my loved one.”