Soorya had a tragic start in life. He was three years old when his father found out that he was HIV-positive. In India, even today, if you are infected with HIV, you are considered an outcast. The same week, he doused himself and his wife with petrol and set them on fire. Soorya’s older brother then took him to a neighbour, who in turn brought him to the gates of St. John’s. Father Jose found Soorya there and took him in at St. John’s. He too is HIV positive.
In the early 2000s, many children came to St. John’s with HIV. At that time, we did not know the life expectancy of the children who previously did not have access to the medication that is essential for survival. Nevertheless, we did everything we could to ensure that these children lacked nothing. At the beginning, they were not allowed to attend public school because of the prejudice of the disease and its transmissibility. For this reason, we built a school for the children on the St. John’s premises.
Today, Soorya is 15 years old and attends grade 9. In the new school year, he will attend a public school for the first time and thus arrive in society as a full member. After many years of exclusion, the dedicated educational work of our local partner has ensured that the prejudices have disappeared.