Freedom Foundation started focusing on Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in the context of HIV/AIDS in 1996. It was the first comprehensive care and support centre for kids living with HIV in India. Freedom Foundation Care and Support Centres were set up in response to the stigma, discrimination & abandonment amounting to violence and death faced by the children. From a small child to a teenager, Freedom Foundation has opened up its doors and heart to all children who have been shunned by society because of the taboo associated with their disease- HIV.
Orphaned children living with HIV are one of the worst affected in this pandemic. Living with pre-existing immune-compromised status (HIV), they need additional care and protection including awareness, socio emotional support and disease management.
Today, Freedom Foundation is faced with a humanitarian crisis with existing funders withdrawing from funding commitments as a result of the ongoing economic slowdown. In the absence of funding, the children and the caretakers who have been with Freedom Foundation, stand to lose their homes, food security and safe spaces. The ongoing pandemic has also produced a lot of Covid orphans in the space of HIV/AIDS. These are HIV +ve children who are orphaned due to the death of their parents due to the complications associated with Covid. And we are constantly faced with situations where we are obliged to take up these orphaned kids who are denied access elsewhere to services that enable their access to treatment & psycho-social care, education & nutrition support.OUR SOLUTION
We have a moral obligation to ensure that the children are not denied their basic rights to childhood. It is imperative to protect them from stigma, discrimination, exploitation, violence, neglect, illness and extreme poverty. They need education, health services, consistent support systems as well as love, hope, and encouragement and more; to eventually develop into healthy, capable adults. This is critical during the times of COVID-19 where the children are most vulnerable to the virus. The Freedom foundation has specialized facilities for childcare and an ecosystem of caregivers whom Freedom has supported and developed over the last 20 odd years. This ecosystem provides a safe environment for the kids to be re-integrated into the society and thus mitigating the risk of orphanhood for these children. We follow a group foster care model for holistic care and protection. The program is supported by in-house counselors, coordinators and others. We have both school going and college going kids. At the center, they learn yoga, computer skills, to improve their overall development.OUR APPEAL
“With a severe crunch in our flow of funds, I am unable to care for the orphaned children with HIV, the members of Freedom Foundation. They are abandoned, stigmatized and discriminated against. Their fault? Being diagnosed with HIV, which makes them the most susceptible to highly infectious diseases like COVID-19,” says Dr Ashok Rau, CEO of Freedom Foundation.
At present, these 90 orphaned and vulnerable children and around 60 care takers in the society must not lose their home, food security and safe spaces. But the current scenario and lack of funds are a threat to the smooth running of the foundation, making the future of these children uncertain and challenging. There are a lot of so-called Covid orphans who need support, but we can help them only if there is enough funds to keep up our commitments with these children. Only you can ensure these kids have a fair chance to live. Break all stigma and be a friend of Freedom Foundation and help them raise these orphaned children with HIV with the care and nourishment they deserve. And also, to protect and provide for many more orphans who are victims of the impact of Covid. Together we can provide them with a life they have been deprived of without any fault of their own.