On World AIDS Day 2017, Human Touch Foundation brought together adolescents living with HIV, representatives of NGOs, government officials at ASRO, Tivim on 1 December.
The event saw the launch of �Bloom and Blossom� club of adolescents living with HIV by Honourable Minister for Health and Women and Child Development, Government of Goa, Shri Vishwajeet Rane, a presentation by adolescents on the outcome of the consultation organized by Human Touch and Youth LEAD, experience sharing by the adolescents on TeenGen Leadership Course held at Bangkok and a cultural programme.
�Children and adolescents living with HIV have been left behind. They need to be in the focus of the government as well as other organizations, if we are to end AIDS by 2030,� explained Human Touch Treasurer, Dashmi Mandrekar.
Fr. Maverick Fernandes, Director of Caritas Goa, spoke on the work by faith-based organizations in response to the needs of children and adolescents. �I acknowledge all the people who have been supporting us, including the government, in this initiative. We are determined to coordinate a response with others, including the government and give care, love and protection to those in need,� Fr. Maverick reflected.
A unique club of adolescents living with HIV, Bloom and Blossom was launched during the programme.
�The concept of adolescent club is to provide a safe space for these adolescents to receive treatment and ensure that health is optimized, and spend some time tending to their emotional needs at this critical time in their lives, where establishing peer relationships is particularly important�, explained Peter F. Borges, CEO of Human Touch.
�We face great difficulties in having our voices heard. We need that seat at the table. We want to speak about our issues. We want those working for us to engage us to drive the response�, expressed Shanku, President of the newly launched club, detailing out the issues faced by them in accessing care and support and coping with HIV and presenting the same to the Health Minister.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Vishwajeet Rane, said �You are special children and I will do whatever I can to help you cope with better quality of life and will consider facilities needed in the health system.
�I will ensure that AIDS Control Society is once again reorganized so that we can reach out to the people living with HIV. The whole focus will be on providing better quality of life for children living by HIV. I will work towards creating a better environment for them within the framework and funds that are available. I will be putting a monitoring committee in place with different NGOs and like-minded people so that I can deliver and do something to help the people living with HIV.�, Rane concluded.