Savita, 25, came to Sahara in the fall of 2005. She used to make chapattis in a college dining hall for 600 rupees a month (roughly $13). She was married and had two children, but her husband was killed three years ago in a road accident. In September 2005, during a festival, she fell very ill and was paralyzed in all four limbs. Her brother and sister took care of her, but when they found out she was infected with HIV, they and their spouses began to quarrel over keeping her. “If you stay, we’ll get infected,” they would say.
After coming to Sahara, with medication and physical therapy, Savita recovered the use of her right side. Today she is walking and performing many tasks independently. But she misses her daughter and son, now 10 and 3, and her family, though they visit; remain ambivalent about caring for her. “Why are my brothers and sisters treating me like this? Why aren’t they coming to see me? When I ask to come home, they say, ‘who will take you to the toilet and this and that—you’d better stay there.'” (Sahara staff does a lot of outreach to families to maintain relationships. In addition to the residents, about 40 outpatients are currently cared for by relatives.)
Savita’s dream is to live on her own again. “I will get well, both my hands will get better, I will take a small house and have my children with me and do whatever I can within my capabilities. That’s the only thing I’m thinking about, I want to get well so I can feed my children.”