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A village changes its mind


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?’

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