Kolkata: Little drops of tears on the corners of her eyes glittered with the rays of hopes and dreams, as an emotional Arifa added that she wished to become a teacher, as according to her, a teacher is the noblest of professions that can bring about a change with just the will and the guts to make it happen, says a press release.
Arifa’s dream to teach little girls like herself who have never had the warmth and security of a family, and have been rendered alone to fight against the cruel reality of the world at a very ripe age. Arifa is herself a girl living without her parents. When merely a month old, her mother died of a cardiac arrest while her father shunned her to be thrown away as garbage and left her on her own taking her elder brother with him. Herself an HIV-positive patient undergoing treatment since the age of eight, her maternal grandfather, a daily labourer in the Howrah station, has been raising her since her childhood crisis through extreme hardships and troubles. Being very poor, she has neither been able to afford to mobile nor was able to attend her school’s online classes. English has always seemed to be an enigma to the little girl now studying in the ninth standard. However, she wishes to study hard and grow up to be self-dependent so that she can help numerous little girls just like her who are abandoned by fate – so that they can educate and grow to fight the hardships of this world despite their health backdraws, since nothing stands beyond a rock-strong will and the fiery guts to make things happen. The Child In Need Institute (CINI) has been her comrade in this fight, and hopes to provide a better future to many more girls like her.
This is the story of Arifa Khatun, a poor girl living with her grandfather with struggles as her life partner and dreams big enough to make the sky seem smaller in comparison. Today, on the occasion of World AIDS Day, CINI has been the host to a programme where 75 such children were invited, each of whom were HIV-positive. AIDS has always been a medical condition that has been stigmatized down from the start – more than the fear and horror surrounding its effects, the biggest of clouds of terror that have been shrouded revolving it have been the numerous superstitions, stigmas, social taboos and the deteriorating mentalities and conceptions that have made AIDS a disease not to be discussed about in the open, even today.
“December 1 is celebrated as World AIDS Day every year, it gives people the opportunity to join the fight against HIV, It is a part of the CINI’s core preventive approach towards Child Protection by preventing harm by intervening before it occurs” Said Dr. Indrani Bhattacharya, CEO, Child in Need Institute. This year CINI celebrated the day in association with first-ever “11 Takay Daktarbabu” clinic in the city to serve the poor and marginalised communities. The programme was a part of the “IICCHAA” project supported by CINI Australia and Banerjee Foundation which is greatly devoted to the help of such little children fight their way towards a safe and HIV related-free future and a healthy lifestyle. A general health check-up including blood test & nutrition counselling sessions were also organized.
Mr. Meghendra Banerjee, COP, Ms. Soma Mukherjee, Social Activist, Mrs. Suchandra Gupta, PC ICHCHA Project and Mr. Sujoy Roy, National Advocacy Officer, CINI. Were present at the event. Mr. Roy said “We hope our joint effort leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections & zero discrimination.” Our journey started way back in 1974, when founder Secretary Dr. Samir Chaudhuri, a pediatrician, decided to dedicate his life to help the children and women in need. The path has not been smooth and easy. Several hurdles along the way only made our determination stronger which helped to reach out to poor and vulnerable children in the areas of health, nutrition, education and child protection. In 48 years of activity, CINI has reached thousands of women and children, with preventive solutions through a children’s rights-based approach.