Celebrating a Colorful Diwali with a difference
Syed Ali Mujtaba
Chennai, Oct 16, 2009: Diwali, the festival of light has never been as colorful to me like today. As memory serves, I have always celebrated this Hindu festival with my friends amidst sound of fire crackers, lights and mouth watering sweets and other delicacies.
Today was different. I was with over 200 children infected and affected by HIV who had gathered for a fun filled colorful Diwali celebration along with their parents on the lawns of a hotel in the city.
Children were entertained with a variety of cultural programmes. A special musical event was performed by Isai Mottukal, a musical group where most of the singers were young children that gave a scintillating performance. There was also a dance number by a transgender group and a hip hop dance and a comedy performance to provide recreational support.
The excitements of HIV infected children showed no bounds and were seen dancing and clapping their hands. They were on cloud nine, when sweets and crackers were distributed to them.
“This is a great day in my life and I was so happy to see my other friends, I want to become a doctor and I know I will soon be a doctor to serve the society” said Raja, one of the children who had come for the programme playing with light stick.
Tamil Nadu trust for Children affected by HIV/AIDS” (TNTCAA) in partnership with the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society, organized this celebration.
Chennai Corporation Mayor Mr.M.Subramaniam, TANSACS Project Director S.Vijayakumar, Bimal Charles, APAC Project Director, in order to show their solidarity for the cause participated in the programme.
There are approximately 7500 children living with HIV in Tamil Nadu. In addition to this there are orphan children who have lost either one or both the parents to HIV. In order to address there issues, the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society along with the Government of Tamil Nadu, formed Tamil Nadu trust for Children affected by HIV/AIDS (TNTCAA).
This trust is the first of its kind in the entire country that ensures safety, security and protection of children living with HIV. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has allotted Rs.5 Crore for this trust and efforts are being made to reach out to the private and corporate organizations to mobilize more funds.
“This is a celebration and expression of the children’s gratitude to the Chief Minister who initiated a Trust for the orphaned and vulnerable children” said Mayor Chennai Corporation Mr.M.Subramaniam in his speech.
“The objectives and the goal of the trust has been conceived with the support and inputs provided by the officials from the respective departments, Networks of people living with HIV, Medical officers and NGO representatives,” he said.
The trust will cater services to HIV infected children between the age group of 5 to 18 support their education, nutrition, health and financial support. The trust provides an opportunity for the children by giving proper education and shelter so that it will enable them to compete with other children.
“The upliftment of the infected children is not possible until these children receive the social recognition,” said the Chennai Mayor adding that “this celebration is an effort taken by the state AIDS Control society, to prevent the stigma and discrimination that is exists in the society towards the HIV infected.”
The Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control is also providing support through the Community care centers to support these children in education, nutrition and health, the family environment and social security.
It is running 35 anti-retroviral therapy centers in Tamil Nadu covering all the districts. So far over 35000 HIV positive people have undergone treatment at these centers including 2784 children. TANSACS has requested those interested can fill in the application for the programme and submit it to the District Collector in order to benefit of this programme.
According to AJ Hariharan, Director of ICWO, a NGO working on several social issues, Chennai city alone needs a supply of 11,111 condoms a day, 3, 33,350 in a month, and 40,00,200 in a year, as an interventionist measure to overpower the scourge of HIV/AIDS.