HIV+ woman heads community kitchen | india | Hindustan Times
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HIV+ woman heads community kitchen

With her business-like approach, giving orders to subordinates to meet deadlines, no one would ever think Ruby is HIV positive.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 14:58 IST

She is just another 30-year-old working woman. With her business-like approach, giving orders to subordinates to meet deadlines, no one would ever think she is HIV positive.

Today she heads the community kitchen of an NGO, that prepares about 150 'dibbas' (lunch-boxes) for the sex workers here.

A former sex-worker, Ruby is "reliving life at her own terms and conditions". She is aware of her HIV status for more than ten years but this does not dampen her spirits.

"I have been living a healthy life so far. I just take multi-vitamins, eat healthy, nutritious food and try to remain happy," she says.

When she was 16, Ruby was sold to a brothel in Budhwar Peth, red light district of Pune, instead of being married off as promised by her cousin.

Left with little choice, she worked there when one day the hospital authorities diagnosed her and her daughter as HIV positive.

Thanks to a local NGO, she underwent training on 'How to Live with AIDS' in Geneva and Phillipines and "picked up the pieces of her life" and is busy in her community kitchen.

"We charge the food less than the hotels. Apart from that we give free meals to about 18 women everyday, ten of whom are inflicted with HIV," says Ruby whose daughter is currently living in Mumbai.

Ruby's is not the only case of sex workers braving odds.

Yashodhra and Sulochana left the world's oldest profession once they adopted the role of 'peer-educators' with an NGO.