Happy International Women’s Day!

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Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity…

If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior.

 

These lines by Mahatma Gandhi several decades ago ring true even today. Today on the occasion of International Women’s Day, we bring you the moving story of one such woman with remarkable strength.

Nojki (name changed), 22, is a young tribal woman from the Salumbar block of south Rajasthan. At the age of 18 years she was married to Laxman lal (name changed). By the time she turned 21 years, she was a mother of two little girls. Laxman lal used to migrate to Mumbai for work and returned to the village a couple of times during the year.

3 months ago, Nojki fell very ill. She suffered from loose motions, blood in her stool and a persistent fever. With her husband away, she was unable to take care of her daughters and herself in such a delicate condition. She then moved to her parent’s home in Manpur with her daughters, where her parents could look after them. While she was there, she heard of the AMRIT clinic in Manpur. When she approached them, she was in such a weak state that she required several bottles of intravenous fluids and antibiotics to nurse her back to health. Given her symptoms, the team at AMRIT clinic insisted that she get herself tested for HIV.

Nojki and both her daughters tested positive for HIV. She was counseled on the implications of being HIV positive; however she found it very difficult to understand the full impact of her situation. To make matters worse, Laxman lal disowned her and their daughters and refused to take them back. The AMRIT staff escorted her to the District Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) Center, where she was put on ART drugs. The team assisted Nojki by taking her to a home for HIV affected children. Nojki now works at the home looking after other HIV affected children, while her daughters too are taken care of. Nojki wants to go back to her village to celebrate the Indian festival of Holi. However, she is facing strong resistance to return, even from her own family due to existing stigma associated with HIV.  We truly admire the strength with which Nojki is battling not just HIV, but society’s perceptions about it; and we wish for a bright future for her daughters and her!

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