“Where there’s a will, there’s a way”

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PLHIV community member being provided with ART medication

PLHIV community member being provided with ART medication

The country is presently going through the most unexpected challenge ever posed to humanity, and to compound matters, a countrywide lockdown has been announced to ensure social distancing in an effort to break the chain of coronavirus transmission. The present lockdown has only added to the difficulties of the People Living with HIV (PLHIV) who have to rely on other individuals for support. They mostly include the persons in the old age group, persons with disabilities, and orphans.

The severe lockdown measures have put to test, the willingness of frontline workers to serve the community. With a great sense of pride, we can say that it has not broken the spirit and enthusiasm of frontline workers of Alliance India and the zeal that they have towards community betterment.

Here are a few examples to define their sense of commitment.

Ashwani (name Changed) called up Gurmeil Singh (frontline worker from Hanumangarh, Rajasthan) and told him that he cannot come to the ART center to collect his medication. The nearest ART centre for Ashwani is 65 km away from his house, there was no public transport available and he presently uses a wheelchair. Gurmeil took two months of medicine, covered 65 km journey on his bike, and reached Ashwani’s home to deliver medicine. While speaking with Ashwani, he also got to know that his wife was stuck in Churu district of Rajasthan and required ART medicine as well. Gurmeil knew that if Ashwani’s wife would have been there with him, both of them would have received the medication together. Gurmeil assured Ashwani that she will also get the medicine. Later, close coordination over the phone was established with the outreach worker of Churu district and she also availed the medicine. Gurmeil saw the sigh of relief in Ashwani’s eyes when his wife called her to inform that she has the medication now in her hands. Ashwani’s wife, Varsha (name changed) and he himself shared his gratitude with our frontline worker for having helped them in this difficult time.

“I am happy that this couple got this medication. I am a family person myself and it was my responsibility to help this family in this time of crisis”, said Gurmeil.

Lakshmi, a 38 year old woman in sex work and resident of Kolkata met with an accident before the lockdown which resulted in a fractured leg. The injury made it difficult for Lakshmi to reach her ART center. She called the Care & Support Centre (CSC) and informed about her situation. Our outreach worker collected medicine from ART Centre and delivered it the next day.

“Plight of women in sex work is not hidden from us as we work with them often for their well-being’’, said the outreach worker.

When she saw the medicine tears came out of her eyes. Despite being bedridden, she even offered sweets and water to our outreach worker who visited her house.

Rohit, 8 years old lives with his 65 year old hearing-impaired grandmother in Banjerupally village, Husnabad, Karimnagar (Telangana). Their only source of income is the old-age pension scheme and ART pension. Expecting Rohit to come and avail his ART medicine with his grandmother is almost next to impossible considering that Karimnagar falls under the Red zone where no public transportation is available. Besides, no outsiders are allowed into the village as it is guarded by the village head and volunteers because of fear of Covid-19. The CSC staff made a telephone call to Rohit’s grandmother, stating that they would like to deliver the medicine for the child to their house. The grandmother was apprehensive and reluctant to receive the services at their doorstep considering that the status of the child is kept confidential (except the ASHA worker) due to fear of stigma and discrimination from the villagers and neighbours. In the given situation, the CSC staff coordinated with the ASHA worker and the grandmother of the child. They managed to deliver three months of medicine to the grandmother at the ASHA worker’s house.

“It was a long journey for us. A lot of negotiations had to be carried out. Finally, when ART medicine was handed over, I was content that the child would now continue the treatment’’, said the CSC staff.

Sam resides with his old aged mother in Aizawl which is around 10 km away from the CSC. Recently, he had suffered a stroke and became paralyzed. His mother called the Peer Counsellor for help. She informed that his son needs ART medicine, our outreach worker delivered the medication the next day. During the visit, our outreach worker came to know that both of them were in dire straits due to COVID-19 induced lockdown and they do not have food rations.

“Food is essential for anyone. We cannot keep our eyes closed even after knowing the condition of the people we serve”, said the outreach worker.

The outreach worker with the help of Peer Counsellor mobilized food rations for them so that they do not sleep hungry.

Our frontline workers by ensuring the delivery of medicines to those who need it the most, often in remote and hard to reach areas, for those for persons who face challenges in travelling to the ART centres. Our frontline workers have made a positive impact on many lives and at the same time have inspired us in exercising the new roles and responsibilities of which no one would have ever thought, all with great perfection!

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