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Why wait for another Africa to happen: Nafisa


india Updated: Nov 29, 2005 16:08 IST
Nafisa Ali
Nafisa Ali

Ten years ago I went to 'Tirupathi' (one of the most sacred temples in South India) with a mission. It was a unique pilgrimage and as I stood before 'Lord Balaji', I put my life in the hands of God. I was 37 years old and I asked for direction. A month later, I came to Delhi, which is now my home, and I put my entire focus into social work, working and helping many NGOs dealing with Women Empowerment, Child Development and HIV/AIDS Awareness.

For ten years I worked for raising awareness about HIV/AIDS with different groups of people and in different places.

Five years ago, while filming for my documentary film 'Know AIDS for NO AIDS' I saw the human face of suffering amongst the people living with HIV. It shocked me and brought me face to face with the dire need of care facilities along with awareness and prevention programmes.

The case of a truck driver who was refused a hip replacement surgery because of his HIV positive status at one of the premier health care institutes in New Delhi blatantly showed the dire need of care facilities for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. It was with my direct intervention and meetings with the surgeon that the matter was resolved after he lay with a broken hip for four months.

The truck driver is not a lone example, there are numerous others who have to face rampant stigmatization and suffer crassest violation of their human rights merely because of their HIV positive status. The general apathy, judgmental attitudes of the staff at the healthcare service centres and the harrowing experiences faced by patients with AIDS were disturbing. We, at Action India, (a Trust founded by me four years ago) felt that there is a need to have special facilities care centre to provide a place for people with HIV/AIDS to come to a home without any fear or shame. Hence began my efforts to start a care home for people living with HIV/AIDS to enable them to access services with dignity and respect. On December 17, 2002 'Ashraya' Holistic Care Home for HIV positive people came into being. I am very proud of the Delhi Government under the dynamic leadership of Ms Shiela Dikshit and her visionary Bhagidari scheme which helped me realize my dream.

First Published: Nov 30, 2003 18:56 IST