Published: 31st July 2019
This Good Samaritan is battling against all odds in order to give hope to kids affected by HIV
Ajay founded the Satyakam Manav Sewa Samiti, a home for kids affected by HIV, in 2008
In a society largely ignorant about HIV patients and their plight, one man seeks to rise above the communal restraints and extend a warm hand towards those afflicted with the deadly disease. Ajay Sharma, a former college lecturer from Uttar Pradesh, has been working tirelessly to provide some measure of comfort and solace to children with HIV for the last decade. He bolsters his humble income by conducting home tuitions but funds remain an enduring problem. “I hail from a family of farmers and used to work at Government Inter College in Phalawada. It was a decent life and I didn’t have too many complaints. But in 2004, I met with a tragic accident that left me severely injured, including cerebral hemorrhage. I thought I was done for, but by God’s grace I recovered and that was when I realised the value of life,” says Ajay.
In 2008, Ajay founded the Satyakam Manav Sewa Samiti – a charitable home for abandoned and orphaned kids who were diagnosed with HIV. However, the obstacles presented themselves almost immediately. “I rented a space for my initiative in Ganganagar, but the neighbours were initially reluctant to interact with me. They vehemently opposed the idea of me setting up a home for HIV children,” he says. Unlike most social issues in the country that are based on caste or religious discrimination, this one sprang up due to another common ailment – lack of awareness. The local residents were not aware that HIV cannot be transmitted by normal means, such as playing or touching. They were worried that their ‘healthy’ kids would get contaminated by the ‘unhealthy’ children of Ajay’s charity home. “It was heartbreaking to hear them say that, but most people are not aware of such medical issues.”
In order to overcome the social stigma associated with HIV, Ajay began inviting his neighbours to his establishment during festivals and other special occasions. “I made them come and see for themselves, the harmless and innocent nature of my kids. Slowly, people began showing sympathy towards them, and eventually they became supportive. Now, they’re all part of our family,” he remarks. Over the last few years, the Satyakam Manav Sewa Samiti foundation has organised countless awareness programmes in schools and colleges to help acclimatise the HIV kids with the larger community. “I wanted to show people that my kids are just as healthy and active as normal kids,” he says. The foundation currently has 14 children, and Ajay wants to expand this to include as many as he can, subject to financial feasibility.
Although there are several charitable homes for such children in the state, what makes Ajay’s one stand out is the extent to which he himself has gone to bring about substantial change in their lives. “I pay for everything – their education, medicines, toys, books, clothes and food. I don’t have much money but I still try to meet all of their demands,” he adds. His ultimate goal is to empower HIV kids with the same strength, courage and ambition that normal children have, and enable them to lead not just regular lives but memorable ones too. “There is nothing that a person can’t achieve when they set their minds on it. I will succeed in helping these kids by being their father, teacher, mentor and friend. I am confident of it,” concludes Ajay.
While most of us talk about helping those less fortunate than us, this Good Samaritan has taken bold steps to touch lives and make a significant difference. He has the heart, the vision, the dream and the compassion. All he needs now are donations from generous individuals and the support of others.