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Friday 11 November 2011

'We are humans, not animals': HIV positive children served eviction notice in Jaipur

'We are humans, not animals': HIV positive children served eviction notice in Jaipur

Jaipur: In an upper middle class neighbourhood in Jaipur, 19 children, all HIV positive, have found a home of their own. They're now in danger of losing it. An eviction notice, based on complaints by neighbours, has been served by their landlord.

Some of the children are orphans; others come from families who can't afford to look after them. 

The group, whose youngest is a six-year-old, were living earlier in Jaipur's Jagatpura area but moved to their new home on the 2nd of this month. For Rs. 30,000 a month, they get four bedrooms, two floors, and enough space for nine adult care-givers, who cook for them and drive them to school. The expenses are paid for by an NGO called "The Rajasthan Network for Positive People " which is in turn funded largely by Keep A Child Alive, an international organization supported by Grammy winner Alicia Keys. 

It was Keep A Child Alive that insisted that the children move to a better area where they could enjoy parks and a good school.

The children lead a normal life - school in the morning, homework and games in the evening. The landlord, moved by their story, dropped the rent by Rs. 20,000 when he gave his house to them. But neighbours have been less accepting. "We were told that your chidren have HIV, and neighbors in the area object, so please leave this house," said Mona Balani, one of the adults who is working closely with the children. 

"Why don't people want us here? This is a nice neighbourhood...we like living here," says a young girl who lives in the house. "We are humans, not animals," says another.

The local administration has now promised to intervene. Officials will be deputed to talk to people who live in the neighbourhood. "We will do an aggressive counselling, try convincing people their apprehensions are unfounded and we have to be much more humane," says Naveen Jain, the collector of Jaipur.

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