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Powerful narratives of resilience from Rajasthan

Kaveri Kaur lives with her 15-year-old daughter in a remote village in Rajasthan. Following the demise of her husband, who was an HIV-positive patient, she faced severe discrimination from the villagers, who, on one occasion even assaulted her. A victim of stigma, discrimination and violence, Kaur fought back ferociously every time. She wants a better future for her only daughter and wants her to be independent and self-reliant.

“She goes to the nearby school. It’s an English medium school,” she shared fondly. “My husband was a truck driver and I used to work in the field. When he fell sick, I took him everywhere for treatment. We even went to Jaipur for the same. Two years passed by quickly, however, we couldn’t save him from ‘sheher ki bimari,”she added.

ANP+’s work towards sensitising the villagers has played a crucial role in Kaur’s life. A ground partner of Community Action Collab (CAC), previously known as #COVIDActionCollab, ANP+ urged people to be empathetic towards those living with HIV and created awareness around the disease among them. “A lot has changed following their intervention and we are doing well now,” added Kaur.

Nagma, an HIV-positive patient from the same village, engages in sex work to make ends meet. Even though she lives in a red-light area of the village, she has not faced any discrimination from her family or others. ANP+ has extended support to Nagma in the form of ART medicines, assistance with regard to availing vaccination etc. During the lockdown, the community members who belong to the redlight area faced many issues as their source of income was affected. With the timely intervention of CAC, ANP+ has been able to cater to the needs of the community during this period. They have relentlessly worked in raising awareness on vaccinations and organising vaccination drives in the village.

Vanita, Rama, Sita live with their children in a nearby village in Rajasthan. All three of them lost their husbands to HIV and the widows now live with HIV. With ANP+’s support, they have been able to avail the benefits of many government schemes meant for them and their children, such as the Palanhar Yojana, e-Shram cards etc. “After the children finish their schooling, they will decide what they want to do,” said the mothers in unison.

Suresh and Priya are a married couple living with HIV in the same village in Rajasthan. The couple has four children, including three daughters and a son. Through CACs social protection programme, the couple has been able to procure e-Shram cards through which they avail the benefits of social security schemes meant for them.

ANP+, the partner organisation of CAC that works with the couple has also been able to assist them with receiving vaccinations. “It was really difficult during the lockdown. We couldn’t go out to work, our incomes stopped and we couldn’t even go out to buy groceries. But we were able to receive vaccinations on time,” said Suresh.

The extensive and impactful work ANP+ does in this remote village in Rajasthan makes a monumental difference in the lives of many women and children who belong to vulnerable communities. CAC, with its partner organisations, has put forward a myriad of efforts to ensure that the needs of those who are in need are acknowledged and addressed. In the form of assisting them to avail the schemes meant for them and enabling them to earn a livelihood, our collaborative initiatives help those from marginalised sections of society become self-sufficient and resilient.