The Ashram is first of all a family. In such a spirit, we welcome children – most of them orphans – infected by the AIDS virus.
Inside the Ashram, the children live in the “Shanthi Bhavan Children’s home” which includes the two houses of Jeeva Nivas and Nava Jeevan. The first, for the youngest boys and for the girls, accommodates nearly 35 children from 3 to 16 years old. The second accommodates 13 young adolescents, from 14 to 20 years old. In those homes, created in September 2006, the kids are educated by fulfilling their material, emotional and spiritual needs.
To fulfil those needs as completely as possible, the brothers cooperate daily with the sisters of Cluny, especially in matters of health. The sisters – two of them for the time being – are very devoted to the task and their main charge is the adults’ house, called ShantiBhavan. The sisters live on site like the brothers and the children, and give maternal care to all in every occasions.
We had 14 children only in 2006. In 2018, they are 48 on site, and 8 outside with a partial autonomy for their university studies, apprenticeship or early professional life. They are aged from 4 to 22.
They undergo triple therapy, which gives them an almost normal immune system. Regular physical exercize – including yoga and martial arts – and a balanced diet (supplemented with some suitable additives) contribute to keep them in good health. In addition of the teaching received at school, each child can take part to extracurricular activities aimed to developing their creativity and capabilities, like painting, drawing, dance (bharatanatyam), yoga, kalaripayat (traditional martial art of Kerala), football and more.
To terminate fears regarding HIV and AIDS is essential to put an end to persistent discrimination. That is why we strongly encourage the children to go out in the world, to take part to outside life to that they are no more afraid. Unfortunately, negative attitude towards AIDS patients – both children and adults – remains strong. The lack of information regarding contagiousness of that disease fuels fear. Following bitter experiences of rejection and discrimination, the children have learned to keep their disease secret outside of the ashram. That is also why we try to give them, in their houses, unconditional love and confidence they missed so painfully in the past.