India is home to 21 lakh people suffering from AIDS – the third largest HIV-affected population in the world. According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) estimates, children less than 15 years of age account for seven per cent (1.45 lakh) of all infections.
Blame illiteracy, poverty or lack of awareness, but thousands of HIV positive children in India are rendered homeless – shockingly by their own parents or relatives in most of the cases.
However, an organisation named HIV – Happy Indian Village – has become a ray of hope for such children who are being abandoned by their families and are struggling for survival.
Situated in Hasegaon village of Mahrashtra’s Latur district, Happy Indian Village is home to 71 children suffering from HIV, who have either been abandoned by their parents or have been left to die by their relatives after the death of their parents.
The Happy Indian Village, run by a foundation named Sevalaya, takes care of everything – fooding, lodging and education – saving lives of these children who have been left to perish.
Sevalaya is managed by a man Ravi Baptley who left his career and home, with an aim to help children suffering from HIV.
Ravi, who was a journalist, left his job in 2007 when he saw the corpse of a child, a patient of HIV abandoned by his parents, being eaten up by insects.
Distraught with the incident, Ravi decided to dedicate his life to save lives of such children. Despite disagreement and obstruction from the village authorities, Ravi did not lose hope and eventually managed to establish the organisation.
Children at the Happy Indian Village consider it as their home and praise Ravi for giving them a better life.