Annu: A tale of perseverance

Annu’s father, an army man returned to his family of four living in Ratwai village of Tonk district in Jaipur. “I’m on holiday,” he had said. His leave stretched on, till it became evident to his wife and two daughters that he had no plans of returning to the army.

He was constantly ill and his health deteriorated rapidly. After four years, Annu’s father passed away. He had been diagnosed with HIV while he was still with the army.

However, the true reason for his return remained concealed from his family till after his death. “He never told us, even though he knew from the beginning. Even when he was extremely ill, he would dismiss it.”

It was only after he passed away that the family came to know he had been suffering from HIV. “We had to ask the doctors what the reason for his illness was. That’s when we came to know.”

Annu’s mother was left to fend for herself and her two daughters. Family struggles caused her to shift from her in-law’s place to her uncle’s home. Soon, she too began succumbing to the virus her husband had passed on to her.  One day, their village was visited by a team of doctors. Upon hearing that Annu’s mother was bed-ridden, the doctors conducted tests that revealed she too had HIV/AIDS. Her ART treatment began in SMS Hospital, Jaipur. Medical professionals there informed her of an institution that takes care of people suffering from HIV.

And so, Annu, her sister Madhu and their mother Prem Devi made their way to Aanchal Care Home. “Medical tests were conducted on my sister and I but we both were confirmed non-positive. We lived there and my mother began working at the care home itself.”

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It was on 21st November, 2012 that Annu entered the gates of Faith Sansthan, along with her younger sister. Aanchal Care Home had been shut down by the government and the two children were shifted to Faith. “At first, it was difficult for me. It was a new place with new people,” says Annu in reminiscence. However, within no time she had settled in to her new home.

Being the eldest girl, she  soon took up the responsibility of helping the in-house staff with the younger kids. From the very start, she exhibited qualities of leadership and delegation that are bound to hold her in good stead in the future. Her lively presence and responsible nature have earned her the respect of the girls.

Annu’s intellect was evident from the very beginning. A bright young girl, she worked zealously and passed her 12th grade with high marks. As a reward for her academic progress, she was also gifted a Scooty by the government under a scheme. The scheme was designed to gift Gujjars who receive a certain percentage in 12th grade a Scooty. Annu today is the proud owner of her very own Scooty Pep Plus.

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At 18 years, Annu had transformed into a responsible individual with a drive to achieve her dreams. Upon turning 18, children at Faith are relieved and reintegrated into society. However, Annu’s mother was not keeping well and could not sustain the costs of her daughter’s education as well as her own treatment. Annu requested that she may continue living at Faith until her college was over as she was happy here and had enough time to dedicate to her studies, which would have been impossible while fending for herself in the real world.

Faith, in accordance with her wishes took permission from Child Welfare Committee for Annu’s aftercare provision. Now, Annu’s infectious laugh continues to ring through the house, and her determination to succeed inspires every visitor.

She was admitted into Maharani College in Jaipur and is currently in her third year.

Every individual experiences a phase in life when they shed their inhibitions and bloom into self-assured adults. College proved Annu’s decisive point. Her reserved nature received a wild shock in the midst of the hustle-bustle that is University. Interaction with peers her age imbued in her a sense of confidence that further heightened her pleasure in education.

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Soon she had transformed into a self-assured person and now enjoys every bit of her college life. Post graduation she plans to sit for competitive examinations and aspires to become an RAS officer.

Annu’s eyes light up if one mentions ‘History.’ It holds a certain charm for her, that is hard to replace. “It’s interesting to read about the past. I often imagine scenes of historical significance playing before me in real time.

What if something had happened differently in the past? I love thinking about how that would affect the present today.”

Theatre too, holds a special place in her heart. She has analysed and even acted in many plays and been commended for her performances.

What is inspiring to see, is the amount of dedication with which she plans to achieve her dreams. After completing college, she plans to join a coaching center in order to crack the exams. A girl whose ambition is her driving force, she does not shy away from burning the midnight oil and studying late into the night. She has striven to acquire a good academic record in order to be independent.

Annu’s improvement and consistent progress are definite indicators of all that she is sure to achieve in life.

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