Medical Insurance Support

The Trust provides medical insurance for over 2000 HIV positive children. The Trust has a dedicated person to co-ordinate between the insurance company, the hospitals and the beneficiaries to ensure a smooth and error free claim process. In addition the Trust is in touch with the caregivers of the beneficiaries helping to educate them on the insurance process. The Trust also maintains an ongoing relationship with the insurance company to improve the product based on feedback. Today these children are the single largest group of HIV positive individuals who have private medical insurance cover in India.

Why Insurance?

In India, the share of out-of-pocket payments in total health expenditure is nearly 80% compared to less than 20% in high-income countries. For the poor, out-of-pocket payments for healthcare are not only a major cause of impoverishment but also act as a financial barrier to accessing timely and effective health care. Since a large percentage of those infected by HIV are below the poverty line the financial burden of health care often becomes too much to bear, leading to high levels of stress and often over-shadowing other crucial expenses such as nutrition.

Monitoring & Interaction

Not content with only providing medical insurance, the Trust initiated a massive effort called the Child Interaction Programme that ensures constant and on-going telephonic contact with the caregivers of all children covered under the Trust. Telephonic Interaction was necessitated by the fact that the children are spread across Tamilnadu. This is an unusual and path breaking effort on the part of the Trust as most large NGOs in such a scenario do not have direct interaction with their beneficiaries and work through various grass root NGOs to ensure their programs are carried out.

Access and Information

This effort to maintain telephone contact has taken advantage of the growth in telecommunications and as a result has created an inexpensive and ongoing mode of communication with beneficiaries in far flung and remote areas. This direct and regular telephonic contact has proved to be exceedingly effective in capturing data about the children thus enabling the Trust have useful current and regularly updated information about them. As this interaction has grown, the Trust has better understood the needs of the children and the areas where greater support is required.

A Helpline in Times of Need

This regular interaction has also helped us develop a relationship with the children and the caregivers, gaining their trust, Now, the caregivers and the children reach out to the Trust on their own, seeking our help when there is a crisis in their life, or when any assistance is required. From access to medication, to counselling children, to intervening in a family dispute, the Trust has been called on to solve a range of problems.

Understanding Greater Needs

Due to advances in medicine and medical protocols, as well as improved knowledge and awareness, children infected with HIV at birth are living longer. While this is a happy development, it also means that there are a whole new set of challenges and concerns in the care of HIV positive children.

Many of the children have lost either one or both parents. Where the parents are alive, they have health issues which makes it difficult for them to work and provide adequately for the family. This puts tremendous pressure on the children to become financially independent as soon as possible.

Additionally, these children face unique challenges with regards to their positive status as well as issues that face all adolescents. The children, approaching adulthood face many questions and uncertainties about their future such as possibilities of marriage. They face psychological, sexual and practical issues while contemplating their future; trying to balance their dreams of happiness, companionship and family with the practicalities of their situation.

Higher Education

The Trust has also begun the effort of supporting children for higher education in college from 2014. These are bright children, who dream of an education and a career. In addition to the financial support, the Trust will prepare them for their future with sustained monitoring and mentoring.

The Trust believes that these children too have a right to a future… When a child who knows his HIV status still has the courage to dream… It is our duty to find a way to help.

Mentoring & Guidance

The Trust has chosen to provide greater support in preparing these children for adulthood. Telephone based guidance, monitoring and mentoring form a large part of the Trust’s activities. There are also plans to introduce conversational English as well as preparation for interviews among the college going children. With children living in remote areas, access to this kind of training is a challenge. Telephone based support will enable them to take one more step forward a career and a normal life.

Stigma - Children of the Shadows

Although the Trust has got to know the children and about their lives, we never use their names… we never share their photos. Because even today, in spite of all the awareness that is given there is still so much of stigma and fear associated with HIV. If we were to introduce the children by their real name, location and school… it is possible someone will find out. Perhaps the child will be sent out of school… Perhaps the family will be asked by the land lord to vacate… Perhaps friends will stop coming over to play…. Most of this stigma is due to ignorance and a lack of understanding.

This is our objective to reach out to these vulnerable children in a gesture of support to try to improve their lives and give them what every child should have – a happy and secure childhood.