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Schemes needed to support kids of HIV parents

G Manju (name changed) lost her father to HIV five years ago. Her mother, also HIV-afflicted, has since then been toiling to make ends meet. Earning barely Rs 5000 a month, she is hardly able to feed her three children.

Schemes needed to support kids of HIV parents
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Chennai

Manju is not alone. There are over 2000 children in Chennai and Tiruvallur afflicted with HIV/AIDS, due to which they are shunned. Coming from poor economic backgrounds, most of them do not go to schools. With no specific government scheme in place to help such children, various NGOs and religious groups tend to take up the initiative of providing financial support.  

Orphan fund 

“The state government has an orphan fund where it provides these children with some educational support. However, the government norm is that they should study in government schools. Though it provides school fees and other funds, some families do not avail of it as they would rather send their children to private schools,” said Dr P Manorama, former chairperson, Child Welfare Committee. While some NGOs like ‘CHILD’ support young girls from homes of HIV afflicted people, there are so many other children who have not received any support at all. 

“Though schools today, accept all children - even those from families with HIV afflicted – unless the government provides free standard education, everyone will not benefit equally,” said Dr Manorama, adding, “We are fighting for the government to give standard free education. Though there is a free education system, we must work towards strengthening it.”

Books distributed 

With schools reopening this week, NGOs have been reaching out to distribute bags, books and stationery to these children. “Many children from such families drop out of schools after a parent’s death. They find it difficult to cope with the fact that they have lost someone who they were dependent on. Such children, if not supported immediately, will be affected mentally,” said child specialist Irene F.

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