Arunthathiyar children playing in their village
Arunthathiyar children playing in their village

Children are our most important resource because they are our future. But some children are born into injustice, discrimination, violence and poverty. Children living with HIV fear their classmates or teachers will discover their status, which could lead to discrimination and harassment or even being thrown out of school. They are subject to stigma and low knowledge and awareness about HIV, which can be life threatening.

Dalit, and especially Arunthathiyar, children experience discrimination and are often born into poverty because their parents struggle as bonded labourers or are forced into derogatory jobs, such as manual scavenging, because there is no other work for people from their caste.

Children risk being taking out of school to work because an extra income will secure the family’s survival. Girls in particular drop out of school because their marriage has been arranged.

Indigenous children are lucky even to attend school and they lack the most basic human rights. By supporting children and giving them a chance in life they can become catalysts for change.

What do VST and its partners do?

  • We provide family support and a monthly grant for 147 children living with HIV.
  • We facilitate 54 children’s clubs, including clubs for Arunthathiyar, Palliar (indigenous communities) and children living with HIV.
  • We work with the children and their parents to bring awareness and prevent early marriage, sexual abuse, child labour and school drop-out.
  • 247 children living with HIV are ensured health guidance, monitoring and regular check ups.
  • We reach more than 3,000 Arunthathiyar, Palliar and children living with HIV in total.

 Recent achievements:

  • Newly initiated children’s federation, which connects and represents the members of the children’s clubs. Read about the federation’s work
  • 22 adolescents living with HIV are following a two-year programme to build their capacities as peer educators and leaders on HIV and other related issues.
  • Dozens of early marriages have been avoided or annulled.
  • Arunthathiyar children successfully petitioned the local panchayat for toilet facilities in their village.

Case study: Varamathi