There is nothing unusual about a group of people volunteering to provide meals to patients at a hospital. But these volunteers at the Civil Hospital are HIV positive and have formed this collective to provide food, rest and help to other HIV positive patients who come to the hospital from other places.
The Aadhar Charitable Trust, formed as a Self Help Group in 2004, has a drop-in centre where HIV positive patients are served hot piping meals and are allowed to rest The rent for the centre — comprising of two rooms, a kitchen and toilets — is taken care by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation's (AMC) AIDS Control Society.
Volunteers of the trust hang around the hospital and escort outstation patients to the centre. Even local daily wagers, who lose the day's livelihood waiting at the hospital, are served food.
"We have every thing stocked up and cook the food depending on the number of people each day", said volunteer Rameshbhai. If some people want to cook for themselves, they are provided a stove, utensils and raw foodstuff, he added.
Rameshbhai is an HIV positive person who has been with Aadhar for three years. The trust first started as an informal gathering of HIV positive people at the Civil Hospital.
Food and rest is necessary for HIVpositive people after the day's wait at the hospital, says Sharaddhaben Betai, Coordinator at the Project Support Centre of the AMC AIDS Control Society.
Every item at Aadhar is donated by individuals or institutions, while grain dealers' association and vegetable market union have promised to supply materials once a week, explains Shraddhaben. "We have also started packed lunch services for seminars and meets organised by NGOs connected with AIDS awareness," she added.
On an average, Aadhar aids about 15 to 20 people every day, besides its own volunteers. In its endeavour to provide self-esteem to HIV positive people, they are given light work like creating greeting cards, sewing, stitching and making the AIDS mascot 'red ribbon'.