Nearly 70 HIV-positive children from Palawi will be presenting a dance-drama, titled Amhi Prakash Bije, at Balgandharva Rang Mandir, Pune, on Friday at 5.30 pm. Palawi is a residential unit for HIV-positive children, which is run by Prabha-Hira Pratishthan, in Purander. “People have a lot of misconceptions about HIV-positive kids. While some think such kids die at an early age, some are of the opinion that these children are always sick and not capable of doing anything. We want to break this perception through Amhi Prakash Bije (We are Seeds of Light) and tell people that even HIV-positive kids can be as normal as other kids,” said founder of the unit, Dimple Ghadge.
Children had been preparing for the programme for the past two months under the guidance of choreographers Mahesh Patil and Monika Shah.
The one-and-a-half-hour dance-drama includes a theatrical presentation, which is themed around HIV and the societal stigmas associated with it. It will be followed by a dance sequence that creatively blends the culture of Maharashtra, patriotism and folk art forms of the state.
Ghadge said all the participants, who are between the ages two and 21 years, had caught the virus from their mothers. Barring seven-eight children, all had come to Palawi through Child Court Committee or the police and have no parents or relatives. “Even those who have relatives, are not visited by anyone. In all the cases, after leaving them here, the relatives change their phone numbers and address,” he added.
Ghadge’s mother, Mangala Shah, had founded Palawi. The organisation has been working for rehabilitation and upliftment of HIV-positive children. Other than taking care of their education and medical expenses, Palawi also offers various skill-based courses, including stitching, farming, animal rearing and quilt-making.
Currently, Palawi has 110 HIV-positive children under its wing. “India is home to the largest population of HIV-positive orphans. Unfortunately, the number continues to rise. These children face staggering risks and typically die young or are abandoned by their relatives. At Palawi, the only thing we need to be very careful about their medicines and see that they do not catch a disease as their immune system is very weak. For example: if their cold is not treated on time, it can soon develop into pneumonia and may become critical,” said Ghadge.