Varalakshmi was a happy child with many dreams for her future. However, at age 15 she was diagnosed with an incurable skin disease that forced her to give up her academic studies and shattered her dreams for the future. Without an education, her mother tried to find a suitable marriage for her, but her skin disease made it difficult. Finally, a young man agreed to marry her, but she would learn too late that he harboured a life-changing secret.
Within one year of marriage, Varalakshmi joyfully gave birth to a baby boy, only to discover that they were both infected with HIV. Her husband was aware of his HIV status before marriage but did not reveal it to anyone and now Varalakshmi had to live with the virus and the stigma attached to it.
Her husband died shortly after the birth of their son, leaving Varalakshmi abandoned and devastated. Turned aside by her family and village, she and her son faced the social stigma attached to their HIV status alone. She was refused jobs and rental homes; she lost all hope and her health was deteriorating.
While searching for a way to make her life meaningful, Varalakshmi came in contact with a Chalice staff member, which was the beginning of a new phase of life full of hope and opportunities. Her son became a sponsored child and Varalakshmi committed herself to serve the children and adults in her community living with HIV and AIDS.
Now Varalakshmi is one of our field workers in Nellore. She has tremendous love for the sponsored children and children of parents living with HIV. She is passionate in communicating God’s compassion to them and sacrifices her time and energy to assist those living with HIV, ensuring they are accessing appropriate medical care and taking their medications. Mothers of our sponsored children find strong support in Varalakshmi and they seek her guidance for a healthy life. She also has a good relationship with government officials in the departments related to HIV. She is an effective counselor, offering referral services to those living with the virus and accompanying people to the hospital when needed. She is a fierce protector of many of our sponsored children living with HIV.
Through family counseling, Varalakshmi helps families overcome all obstacles and empowers them to lead their life with hope and courage, to face a society that excludes them. She accompanies children who are under antiretroviral therapy to ensure consistent treatment and prevent a relapse. She remains a bearer of hope and light to the people.
Varalakshmi is proud to have found her passion working for Chalice and continues to remain an instrument for translating God’s compassionate love and life to these disadvantaged children and persons living with HIV.