Padma” is 35 and came to Sahara in the fall of 2006. Her father worked in the fields growing chillies and sugarcane. She never attended school. Padma married at age 20 and has two sons, 10 and 8. Her husband lays marble and tiles. After the children were born, she and her husband became estranged.
In 2004, Padma started feeling very sick. She had asthmatic symptoms, no appetite, and lost weight. In the summer of 2006, Padma was tested for HIV at a private clinic. “I started crying a lot when I found out that I was positive. I was devastated. When my husband came to know that he is also positive, he started drinking a lot. He said this is God’s will and no one can change it. He would sit by himself and never talk to anyone.” Padma’s children are living with her husband. He has not been seeking health care for himself and recently contracted herpes. The rest of her family is in the dark about their diagnosis.
Padma has been feeling much better since she came to Sahara. “I feel good here,” she says with a smile. “They take care of me like I am at home.” Her dream is to work, to help herself and her family. She used to sell chai from a small stall. “I’ll be looking forward to working again.”