Saturday, August 02, 2014

An unforgettable experience

She came across as one who’s happy, content with life and living the way the Almighty wanted us all to. No ill-deeds, no past regrets, satisfied with the present and a hope within to continue the same in the days to come. She gets up in the morning full of praise and thanksgiving. She completes her daily chores so that she can start serving others. She does her work diligently and with complete responsibility. In more ways than one, she's like just you and me, sans petty tensions. And yes, there's one more difference. She has something we don't. She has AIDS. 

The "She" I am referring to can be anyone and use of gender is just for illustration. 
The other day I, along with some friends, had the privilege to meet and interact with people suffering from AIDS in a care center. There were about 25-30 women inmates in the care center. They welcomed us, sang songs with us, taught us new songs and shared their experiences. We had lunch together. We took group pictures before leaving. They humbly asked us to share the pictures with them the next time we visit them. What took us by surprise was their humility and a zest for life. Among the inmates, some of them were rejected by their families as they felt the victim has brought disrepute. Some of them didn’t have anyone outside to look forward to. Everyone had their own problems in the past and are living with it and will probably live with them forever. 

But a brave face and an attitude to live every day as it comes has made them stronger. Imagine their problems – an ailment that’s life threatening, virtually banned and ignored by the same society they were a part of, challenge to have nutritional food every time where millions in our country die of hunger, easily susceptible to contagious diseases due to lower levels of immunity. Difficult to imagine, right?

The learning class amongst us wants to earn degrees – graduation and post-graduation – so that they get a better career along with a better pay package. The working class amongst us yearn for the double-digit salary hikes every year, so that we can look forward to "living happily". We work hard, extra hours a day to optimize our monthly intake so that we can probably buy that elusive dream house in this city. The inmates don’t have a job to look forward to, don’t have a house – their families have left them – yet they are more composed than most of us! Why? Probably, they haven’t forgotten to thank and praise their creator during these testing times, something very few of us do. Probably, they know we are all here to live and not simply exist.

Here are some of the statistics on AIDS – More than 35 million people are living with HIV of which just less than 10% are children under the age of 15. Every year, more than 2 million people are infected with HIV which translates to almost 240 every hour. Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 78 million people have contracted HIV and close to 39 million have died of AIDS-related causes.

We as a society are responsible for the plight of AIDS victims – the emotional plight they experience. We look at them with disdain. We chose to ignore their problems. Despite being “educated”, we are unable to be sensitive towards them. We fall prey to “reputation in society” so much that we conveniently distance ourselves from our dear ones who has unfortunately been infected by AIDS. It’s only human to help someone in need / pain. But when it comes to AIDS, we chose an alternate path. As humans, it’s within our right to show our concern towards those with ailments, let alone a life threatening one.

We entered the AIDS center wanting to know more about them, their lives and the problems they face every day. We left the center with renewed hope and faith. Renewed hope to emerge victorious despite any form of trail that befalls us. Renewed faith that things will change for the better. The victims need our support, emotional and financial, and an acceptance in the society. That’s the least we can do.

PS: I am deliberately not mentioning the name of the care center here. The intention here is just to make each one of us aware of the problems these victims are facing. Proper awareness is the first step we need to take. A good beginning is half the job done!

6 comments:

  1. I agree that AIDS victims deserve understanding and compassion.

    What about people who get that disease because of their lifestyle (to put it euphemistically)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have a point sir. But we dont punish those who inflict problem upon themselves, do we? Even they need support to overcome the trauma and start living a meaningful life..

      Delete
  2. The closer you taste death, the more you learn about life. Sad but true.

    "The learning class amongst us wants to earn degrees – graduation and post-graduation – so that they get a better career along with a better pay package. The working class amongst us yearn for the double-digit salary hikes every year, so that we can look forward to "living happily". We work hard, extra hours a day to optimize our monthly intake so that we can probably buy that elusive dream house in this city. "

    ^
    can't agree more to the above lines.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good one, Binu ! It is true that in the rat race for success and money, most of us live completely oblivious of sufferings and dejection faced by our fellow earth-mates !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Anita. Awareness is the first step..

      Delete

All yours..

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