33-year-old Mahesh Jadhav from Karnataka has dedicated his whole life to those who are affected by HIV/AIDS. He has provided shelter to the orphans and has inspired older patients to fight the decease through various initiatives. Here is an inspirational story that is worth a read.
Devoting the life for Humanity
We all live for ourselves and our selfish desires, but here comes the man who has devoted his life to humanity. Mahesh is one such important man in the world who has inspired many for his vision to take care of those special children who have nobody in life.
It was 12 years ago when the engineering graduate met a child named Rupesh, a four-year-old boy who was abandoned by his relatives for being HIV positive.
“I recollect the day when I met Rupesh in the Children’s Ward, back in 2008. The doctor told us about his mother who was HIV positive and on her deathbed. There was no one to take care of him, as his father had also passed away due to the same disease,” he told The Better India.
The child’s relatives and friends had rejected him in the hospital. He had nowhere to go. At first, Mahesh tried requesting the Government home to keep Rupesh, but the admission was refused. Eventually, he met the District Commissioner who then ordered the authorities to have the child at the government care home.
“I was shocked at how an innocent kid was HIV positive at birth and had already seen the worst of people,” recalls Mahesh.
After a week, Rupesh got ill and was rushed to the government’s hospital. The doctors had fewer hopes for his survival. Mahesh had no choice but to bring the child to his home.
At home, withing few days, Rupesh’s health was improving. It was time for him to go back to the government care home. However, the child refused to go back as he felt he was happy to live with Mahesh and his family.
“I had decided to adopt him and the story about me bringing him home somehow reached the media. After several days, many others with young HIV positive children began to come to our door seeking help. I didn’t want to send anybody back and did as much as I could. In the next 6 months, I had 26 children join the family. By 2010, I was a father to almost 55 children!” he asserts.
The start of Mahesh Foundation
This was the start of the Mahesh Foundation which is also known as Asha Kiran (a ray of hope) a home for HIV positive orphans.
Now, this place provides shelter to 55 children and provides to all their requirements including Shelter, Medicine, Nutrition, and Education. These kids got HIV infection from their HIV+ parents. Due to their infection, no one is ready to adopt them after the death of their parents.
Every year kids from 4 to 10 years old are admitted to Ashakiran home. It is said that these kids are often brought when they are very ill and sadly in some cases, they are brought given a few weeks to live.
These children often attend local schools and continue their education. At the age of 18, according to the rule, they are sent onwards to another NGO for further care.
Society and its Non-acceptance
Having said that, keeping these kids around in Mahesh’s place was not an easy job. The residents of the locality began to create problems for the kids and protested their presence there.
Non-acceptance of these children were also a big problem in schools and other education areas. This was making a huge impact on the children’s physical, mental, and general well being. They were forced to the indoors of the care home. They could not come on the street to play. The neighbors complained and even physically handled children at times.
“Many thought I was HIV positive because I was working on this. Many relatives and friends cut ties with me because of it. But, my mother and brothers stood by me through thick and thin.” Mahesh said.
It was time to do a big sacrifice for these children. Mahesh and his family decided to donate their only home to the Foundation. With the help of several corporate doners and individuals, a care home and a primary school were established in 2018.
“We donated our family home of 5,000 sq feet for the kids and the foundation. I was hesitant but I had no choice. My family now stays in a rented house instead.” he shares.
There are now more than 50 children housed and educated in this new facility. The school also caters to underprivileged children from the slums around the town of Belagavi.
“People thought I was too young for such a big responsibility and that the foundation would shut in just two years. Well, becoming a father of 55 kids was indeed big but here we are after almost a decade and things have only progressed. When I look at Rupesh, my heart fills with pride. A boy who was given just two days now is thriving, just like all my other kids. Hence, it all has been a privilege!” smiles Mahesh.