Kumari & Shoba
Our parents contracted HIV when we were very young. My father passed it on to my mother, who didn’t even realize until her last days when she was visibly ill. None of the neighbors wanted to associate with us due to the stigma around sexual illnesses, so we were alone for a long time. We had to look out for ourselves and learnt to live alone, taking care of each other. Our parents’ boss was a member of one of the projects from Aarti Home and he enrolled us here.
We’re both now in the same college group (Kumari began her education a little later), and our subjects are History, Economics and Political Science.
If we hadn’t ended up here, we would have been married off into a family, perhaps never having had the chance to be educated and to be independent. Therefore we want to give back to society. We want to clear the air on the stigma of sexual diseases like AIDS and HIV and hopefully fix the way society thinks about them.
Kumari’s biggest role in Aarti Home is being the house mother — a role, she says, has taught her to be responsible and independent. Shobha is a passionate sportswoman and has won many tournaments and medals; she is widely recognized in Kadapa.