Every child (and every adult as well) deserves being loved and cared about. But unfortunately, many ‘parents’ reject and disown their own children because they are not perfect (but actually, who is?). But there is another category of people. They understand that children who have some problems with health probably deserve no less (even much more) love and caring than the healthy ones. And parenting is not necessarily connection by blood.
Rajib Thomas, or Papa Reji as he is known to his adoptive family, has been labelled “Mr India”, because his story is an example for the whole nation. He and his wife are caring about 22 HIV+ orphans! The father was touch and inspired by the story of one girl, but then his family started to grow. “I saw a girl sleeping outside – weak to the point that you could see her bones”, he said, “I found out that she was HIV positive and had lost both her parents. I asked what she would like to eat and she said noodles, but I couldn’t find them anywhere so I promised her I would return the next day. She passed away that night and that incident kept haunting me, so I went inside the hospital and asked them to contact me if there were any such children in the future.”
“At first it was difficult to make ends meet – we could afford one mattress on which my four children slept and my wife and I would make do without.Eventually, people started donating beds, grains and money. My family of four slowly expanded to 24 as more and more children with HIV were sent to me, ” the father shares.
He also hopes that his story will help to overcome the most common stereotypes about having HIV: “Being HIV positive doesn’t mean that they have to cut their life short. They can live as long as any normal person and that’s what I’m here for – to save them and give them a long life. And with love and care, everything is possible.”