In Salem, Aide et Action's Enlight project works with 220 girls infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. The project is building their confidence and preventing them from dropping out of school. Many of them are now pursuing higher education.
Tamil Nadu is one of the six Indian states with high HIV prevalence. In India, the highest number of AIDS cases are reported in Chennai, Namakkal, Salem, Vellore, Dindigul and Trichy. HIV-positive children are often victims of discrimination and stigmatisation from their peers and neighbours. The disease and the frequent trips to antiretroviral treatment centres cause children to lose motivation and miss school. Often these children drop out of school.
The project Enlight was initiated in Salem, in 2015, to provide access and quality education to girl children infected/affected by HIV/AIDS. The project is directly implemented by AEA with the support of the Salem District Positive People's Network (SNP+). The project supports 220 children/families who are spread throughout Salem.
A Child Support Centre (CSC) The strategically located centre helps girls develop age-appropriate learning skills, basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills, and helps develop analytical, soft and life skills for holistic development, which will enable them to pursue a better life through education. In addition to providing psychosocial support, the programme links them to various government programmes.
The poverty The lack of adequate food, which is necessary for survival, is preventing many families from providing adequate food. As an alternative, Aide et Action is promoting vegetable gardening in the homes of girls' families. More and more families are starting vegetable gardens to supplement their daily nutritional needs while saving money.
Over time and with effort, the girls' skills have been steadily increasing. Girls are now actively participating in academic and extracurricular activities at school. In the last few years, 59 girls have graduated from secondary school and gone on to higher education. Through our advocacy efforts, the district administration has provided free education to these girls in courses of their choice.
The COVID pandemic hit families hard as they lost their jobs and livelihoods. At that time, AEA provided ration kits to these families and advocated with the government to provide antiretroviral drugs without delay. In terms of education, the project ensured that children attended regular online classes and provided virtual counselling to ensure their well-being and continued learning.
A collaboration between Aide et Action and Capgemini, Enlight aims to provide a better future for 2,000 girls living in difficult conditions through education. Operating in nine cities, Enlight works with a specific group of girls in each city, Bengaluru - Muslim girls, Chennai - Girls from Adi Dravida (Dalit) community, Delhi - Girls from migrant families, Hyderabad - Girls with disabilities, Kolkata - Girls from sex workers, Mumbai - Girls from rubbish collection families, Pune - Girls from non-notified communities (Waghri and Sikligars), Salem - Girls infected/affected by HIV and AIDS and Trichy - Girls from manual scavenging communities.