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An agent of change


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”.

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