NGO helps HIV positive women reintegrate into the workforce

One of the most effective ways in ensuring that individuals maintain a decent standard of life is to provide them with the necessary tools to establish independence and self-sufficiency in their lives. Sanmitra aims to do just that by helping women that are HIV positive reenter the mainstream workforce. The NGO also targets sex workers and other demographics vulnerable to the virus. The approaches invoked by the organization are simple but entrepreneurial and address the challenge of getting employers to hire infected women, by sidestepping them altogether.

[Head of Sanmitra Prabha] Desai’s solution to this situation has been simple: set up an enterprise for doing industrial assembling and packaging jobs, get work outsourced from factories and train and employ affected and infected people to do these jobs. In another initiative, Sanmitra trains affected and infected people, most of them young widows, to become HIV counsellors and para-health workers. Desai strongly believes earning livelihood is critical to one’s well-being.

These approaches not only provide income to the employees, but also enable them to develop skillsets and have gained positive praise from the clients of the outsourcing ventures.

Sanmitra’s income generation programme called the Swayambhu Uddhyam Kendra has found support from factories producing electrical goods. The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) has been supportive, as have large companies such as Larsen & Toubro. At Swayambhu, a 20-year-old AIDS widow with two children shows us how she assembles switches. Hands deftly hammering she says, “If I work fast and concentrate I can do about a 100 pieces a day.” At any given point of time, there are about 10 women like her who spend seven-eight hours here each day. They earn wages on a per piece rate. This adds upto a minimum of Rs 70 per day, some earn upto Rs 120. Over a month, they earn about Rs 2,000. The NGO gives them a bus and train pass, along with some basic nutrition in the form of a daily snack.

Finally, this approach leverages the positive benefits of developing a community of similarly afflicted individuals, which in some ways also contributes to their overall morale. The entire article can be found here.

[Source: India Together]

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