Sushma’s hug and kiss gave a lease of life to HIV+ children of Kollam
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Sushma’s hug and kiss gave a lease of life to HIV+ children of Kollam

By The Indian Express calender  08-Aug-2019

Sushma’s hug and kiss gave a lease of life to HIV+ children of Kollam

Sushma Swaraj was extremely popular in the state because of her compassionate intervention to help non-resident Keralites. She was noted for the zeal shown to bring back stranded Malayalee nurses from IS territory in Iraq. However, Sushma’s kindness and humane face were clearly visible when she hugged and kissed two HIV-infected children, who are siblings, at Thiruvananthapuram press club in 2003 when she was Union Health and Family Affairs Minister.
It may be noted that this took place when their school management and PTA had taken a stance that the boy and girl were not to be admitted in school any longer. The then Chathannur MLA Prathapavarma Thampan himself was in the forefront of opposing the children’s entry, resulting in media uproar and the matter was noticed across the state.
The children’s grandparents who were looking after them following the death of their parents lacked the means to support them. And with social ostracisation, their plight worsened.“I am really grateful for Sushma Madam for the kindness she had shown on our children by openly hugging and kissing them, thereby giving a message to the world that they need not be ostracised. This lifted the children’s morale and mitigated the stigma attached to the family to a great extent,” said the children’s grandmother.
It was media persons M S Sanil Kumar and Roy Mathew who took the initiative to bring the matter to the notice of the then Chief Minister A K Antony, who met both the children in his chamber. He gave a patient hearing to their woes, but did not make any commitment.“Antony was listening to the woes of the children narrated by us, but he was not keen to either hold the children close to him. He was keeping a safe distance which was quite natural as the fear of the disease was high in society during those days,” said Mathew. 
“The children were in a bad shape and society ostracised them and the local MLA was hostile. We took them to the Chief Minister who at least listened to their woes,” said Kumar. Later, they met the then Public relations officer of Hindustan Latex Lalu Joseph seeking sponsorship for the education and treatment of the children. Joseph informed them that Sushma was visiting the company the following day and agreed to take up the matter with her. 
Sushma listened and agreed to support the children. “The Minister directed the CMD of Hindustan Latex to provide a sum of Rs 15,000 per month for five years for the children,” said Joseph. However, he has no other ailments.
“The children survived owing to the gesture of Sushma Swaraj who had even arranged free medicines in addition to the money sanctioned by Hindustan Latex,” Mathew said. Of the two children, the girl passed away in 2009 while her grandfather predeceased her in 2006. Her brother is 23 years old, but he has not completed studies as he fractured his leg in an accident. 


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