Mahesh Foundation: Serving Special Children

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By Mahesh Jadhav 

Mahesh Foundation is a not-for-profit (NGO) working for enriching the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS, by providing shelter to the orphans and inspiring older patients to fight the decease through various initiatives. We have been operating in the Belagavi district since 2010 in state of Karnataka.

Lack of sensitivity and awareness, prevalent social conditions & general apathy to the conditions of HIV affected people are some of the factors that increase vulnerability and the risks associated with the spread of HIV. Mahesh Foundation has been engaged in addressing the needs of vulnerable groups with community participation at all levels.

Mahesh Foundation has adopted advocacy and empowerment as its basic approach to removing the stigma associated with HIV.  Working closely with Governmental and non-governmental agencies, it is striving towards controlling the growth of AIDS through preventive strategies. Community mobilization is one of core strategies adopted by the Foundation to bring about a rapid transformation in the social conditions that make communities vulnerable to the spread of AIDS.

Ashakiran Home

In the HIV/AIDS affected communities, children are the most vulnerable.  Keeping this in mind, Mahesh Foundation runs an orphanage ASHAKIRAN. This orphanage provides shelter to 55 children and caters to all their requirements including Shelter, Medicine, Nutrition and Education. These kids got the HIV infection from their HIV+ parents. Due to their infection, no one is ready to care for them after death of their parents.

We get kids from 4 to 10 years old admitted to Ashakiran home. Quite often these kids are brought to us when they are very ill and in some cases have been given a few weeks to live. We are very proud and happy that with the care we give for these children, we have not lost even one child in the last 8 years of our operation. These children attend local schools and continue their education. At the age of 18, according to the law, they are sent onwards to another NGO for further care. Kids at Ashakiran are in the age range of 4 to 16 years. Nearly half of the kids at Ashakiran are girls.

We are striving to create programs that would provide skilling for our children by the time they need to step out of Ashakiran so that if they want, they can start a career. We also want to start a matchmaking program for HIV+ people in order to bring a sense of normalcy in their lives.

Our other Projects

Since 2010, there have been new projects that came out of our work with HIV+ children. Though their origin lies in HIV, Mahesh Foundation is providing service to poor and destitute women from slums, running Anganwadis and clinics at two slums and providing energy sources to slum dwellers. We are also conducting HIV awareness in schools across Belagavi district. Below are some details of these projects.

Nutrition Support

One of the challenges faced by HIV+ kids is their need for extra nutrition. Nutrition helps in building a child’s immunity. It is one of the simplest methods of enhancing HIV+ child’s life. In order to ensure every HIV+ child gets a chance at a good life, Mahesh Foundation distributes free nutrition to 350 HIV+ children and patients.

Aadhar Mahila Udyog (AMU)

While working in the slums we came across a number of families that were not HIV affected but lived in abject poverty due to the habits of the men, the breadwinners. We realised that we needed to empower women in order to better the lives of the entire family. Aadhar Mahila Udyog is a sister concern of Foundation that provides vocational skills to distressed women and enables them to lead a life of dignity. The ability to stand on their own feet has made an unexpected (and welcome) impact; the children in these families are opting for higher education, the girls don’t get married off like in the past at 16 or earlier.

 AADHAR Village

Foundation conducts Anganwadis for young kids and Free Medical Clinics for all dwellers at two slums in Belagavi under this project.

We also provide battery recharge service to power the homes of the slum dwellers so that they can have light in their life.

Educational Support

Mahesh Foundation provides educational support to nearly 4000 children in Belagavi district as well as 5 neighbouring districts. We provide school children with a kit containing:

  • School Bag
  • Notebooks
  • Drawing kit including a drawing book and crayons
  • Geometry box with Pencils, sharpeners and erasers.

Gokak Care and Support Center

We provide support to HIV+ patients. We connect them to their social entitlements, ensure they get their medicines regularly. We monitor their health regularly to ensure ailments like TB do not affect them. And if affected provide treatment and cure. We also support HIV+ people if they face any discrimination.

Utkarsha Learning Center

The children in our care home can only stay with us till they complete 18 years of age. After that they need to go out and find ways of sustaining themselves. For children without parents, it is a huge challenge. In order to help them and other children from nearby slum, we are constructing a school with a difference. The curriculum and pedagogy in our school will focus on giving life skills to the children as well as prepare them to rise even if they fail the first time. This, we hope, will prepare them for a life of grabbing every opportunity and succeed. Our building is a four story structure and can accommodate about 400 children at its peak.

(Mahesh Jadhav is Founder & President of Mahesh Foundation working in state of Karnataka. He can be reached at mahesh@maheshfoundation.org. Visit www.maheshfoundation.org to know more of his interventions.)

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