“Since we have no official ID cards or anything, people tend to view us suspiciously and not take us seriously, even though we’re working for them,” says Aliya*. Aliya is a volunteer with the SP COVID programme in Alwar. Aliya, while talking about her experiences in the villages of Alwar, narrates how people conveniently lie about getting vaccinated. “There are several rumors going around about how the vaccine makes one impotent or barren. Most of the men in the villages had ordered their wives to refrain from getting vaccinated since they want children,” she says. Seeing that they needed some sort of institutional backing, Aliya asked Alwar Network for People living with HIV (ANP) to step in. “It was only after we said that we’re from ANP and took the name of the hospital that people took us seriously”. Aliya has been working relentlessly in the field not only for vaccination but for social security schemes as well. Once the programme gained some credibility in these regions, she started receiving heaps of complaints and issues that villagers were facing. “Sometimes I have to tell them that I won’t be able to make it to their village, but they understand”, she says.
Aliya is HIV+ and so was her first husband. He was a truck driver who died due to excessive drinking. “My mother-in-law asked me to contact my brothers for a second marriage. I was young, and there was no one to take care of me at my first husband’s house,” she recalls. Now, she lives in a big joint family with her second husband. Her motivations to join the programme were many, including helping her daughter with her studies, who is an 11th-grade Arts student, and escaping household scuffles that are a part and parcel of living in huge families. Aliya says, “I have been lucky that my second husband has adopted my daughter as his own, but I have to make sure that she studies hard.”
Image used is for representative purposes only.