New Delhi, the capital of India, is a intriguing city of lights, sound, excitement and culture. Yet as its population grows exponentially, so do the urban poor areas.
Alongside urban poverty come increased disease rates, particularly diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Though the worldwide rate of HIV infections is decreasing, we see a different story here in Delhi. With widespread migration and urban poverty, the number of those living with HIV in New Delhi is increasing. Today, an estimated 50,000 men, women, and children living in New Delhi are infected with HIV, the bulk of whom are impoverished. Marginalized because of the stigma of the disease, persons living with HIV/AIDS are often unable to find hospitals willing to treat them with dignity, and they have difficulty securing employment due to frequent infections and weakness. Thus, an HIV diagnosis often sends low-resourced families spiraling into a painful cycle of illness, isolation, and poverty.
It is in response to these needs that Kiran Project was established.
Kiran Project works to decrease the sense of shame and hopelessness that accompanies life-limiting illnesses
Kiran is a social enterprise of Shalom Delhi, the only comprehensive HIV care home in New Delhi. A unit of Emmanuel Hospital Association, Shalom is a non-profit organization pursuing health, healing and wholeness for the marginalized in New Delhi. Seeking to care for the uncared, Shalom began in 2001 as an HIV clinic and has since expanded to include other life-limiting illnesses such as cancer and disability. Shalom emphasizes holistic care, unifying mental, physical and emotional health.
In light of the realities of living with HIV, Shalom initiated Kiran Project to decrease the sense of shame and helplessness that accompanies life-limiting illness through providing employment opportunities. In addition to employment, Kiran artisans are provided a safe place to come during the day, access to medical care and counseling, and a community of similarly-affected people.
“Kiran Project has given me hope for the future. I can now move past my fear for tomorrow”
The artisans who are a part of Kiran come from the lowest sectors of society. Either the artisan or someone in their immediate family is infected with HIV or cancer, thus limiting the future of the family. Through Kiran, our workers have been able to provide food for their families and school fees for their children, while the community among the artisans has decreased their sense of stigma and increased their feeling of empowerment.
“Because of this work, my children have food to eat”
Kiran chose to train its workers to make textiles, mainly bags and pouches, because this work is manageable for those faced with illness, and gives space for the artisans to allow their creativity to flourish.
For those who are too weak to come to the center, primarily cancer patients and those with disabilities, Kiran Project initiated a home-based sector. This sector is training homebound women to make crochet products. Thus, our crocheted items are often made by our most vulnerable patients.
Currently working out of one center in North-West Delhi, Kiran is actively enrolling and training new artisans. We hope to expand to ten centers in the next five years, providing space for one hundred needy people to find safe, encouraging employment while spreading hope one thread at a time.
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