October 30, 2015
The states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have the highest number of married people who are affected with the Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immuno deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). Sadly, a majority of couples do not survive their battle. Sometimes they leave behind children who also become victims of HIV/AIDS.
Supporting such children who otherwise have no support from the society is the Abhaya Students Shelter (ASS) that is located in Kalappanaickenpalayam village near Kanuvai in Coimbatore city. ASS was established in the year 2009 and it is a unit of the Native Medicare Charitable Trust that continues to receive support from Karl Kuebel Stiftung (KSS) and Anna Schmidt School, Germany.
The Coimbatore home that opened its doors to such children currently houses 25 girls. All of them are either affected with HIV/AIDS or they are disowned by their families for various reasons and some of them are tribal children who are orphans or semi-orphans. “ASS supports such girls. They grow up in this home. We enrol them in schools run by the Government. Once they pass out of school, they join professional courses or we get them married.” S Yashoda, Warden of ASS says. The home has gotten two girls married till date.
For the girls, life at ASS is far better than what it would be otherwise in the world. This home adopts a dormitory style of accommodation where each of the girls is allotted her individual cot. However, the bathrooms and wash rooms are common. A typical day of the intimates of this home begins as early as seven in the morning. Once they finish their morning routine, they get dressed and hot breakfast is served in the common dining area. These girls go to school like most of the kids of their age do. Post school they are back to ASS a place they call home.
This home that measures 2,000 square feet in area is a two storied building that has an in-house library, sports and recreation facilities. “The youngest girl in our home is just seven years of age while the oldest one is 17 years old. During the evenings, all the girls play and spend time with each other. The older ones also help the young girls finish their homework.” S Yashoda, says.
ASS lays great emphasis on the health of these girls. This home organizes health check-ups for its inmates once in two months. We are also told that health insurance cover has been provided to all the children.
This home invites sponsorship from generous individuals and corporate houses. Sponsorship for a child for a year is Rs. 15,000. Education expenses for a child for one year works out to Rs. 5,000. Apparels for a child a year would cost Rs. 2,000. ASS is also open to those who wish to sponsor either one meal a day or all three meals for its inmates for one day on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.
All contributions are eligible for Income Tax Exemption under Sec 80G of Income Tax Act 1961. ASS can be contacted at 0422-2401747.