When Neelam’s sister passed away her family arranged for her to marry her deceased sister’s husband when she only 15 years old. Regardless, she loved her husband and enjoyed relative comforts of wealth in her village. Neelam didn’t know her husband was HIV positive until he passed away 6 years after getting married. During this 6 years Neelam had 2 children, Gopan and Manik. As soon as she became aware of her late husband’s HIV status she travelled to the nearest HIV testing centre, 6 hours from her home in the village, to have herself and her boys tested.
Neelam and her youngest son, Manik, tested positive. Naturally Neelam looked to her family for help, however she was stigmatised and wrongly blamed for giving her husband and child the virus. Turned away from her family, with no husband, little money and a 6 hour journey once a month to collect HIV medication, she was looking for help. A doctor at the government hospital in Jaipur told her about an organization that provides a home, education and medication to HIV positive children at no cost (our partner NGO, Rays). Neelam moved her youngest son to Rays, before becoming a full time caretaker in the home. She now lives at Rays, with both her sons.
Neelam’s strength to endure, her courage to take action and her warm, loving nature is why she is a quiet hero for the Tribe – and why we’ve named a ring after her.
Product inspired: Neelam Ring
Neelam has given us permission to tell her story, but asked that we don’t show her face to avoid any further stigmatism.