According to 2014 statistics, the overwhelming majority of people with HIV live in the developing world. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 70% of all infected people. South and South-East Asia had the second highest number.
In terms of the greatest number of people living with HIV by country, South Africa recorded the largest population at 6.3 million, Nigeria the second at 3.2 million, and India the third at 2.1 million.
The spread of HIV in India has been uneven, with epidemics more severe in the southern half of the country and the far north-east. The highest HIV prevalence rates are found in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana ,Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the south; and Manipur and Nagaland in the north-east.
The states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, have a combined population of approximately 85 million people. Although commerce is flourishing in the high-tech city of Hyderabad (current capital of both states), approximately 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas where there is widespread poverty, limited access to medical care, and fear of HIV/AIDS as a death sentence.
One of the highest HIV prevalence groups in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh has been wives of long-distance truck drivers and auto/taxi drivers with frequent contact to many people. The relatively high rate among wives of agricultural workers also indicates the spread into rural areas as well.
Over the years, the rural city of Khammam, home to “Happy Home”, has felt the impact of HIV from its location near the crossroads of major long-distance truck routes. Also adding to the incidence is the dependence upon taxis for primary transportation within the city and into surrounding villages. Rural villagers, relying heavily on agricultural work, have also felt the toll.
During 2000-04, Laxmaiah Garika, headmaster for a government upper primary school, researched the impact AIDS was taking on children in the Khammam District. The study identified 454 affected children, and in response Laxmaiah and his wife Esther established “HAPPY HOME”, HRUDAY ASSOCIATION FOR POSITIVE PEOPLE AND YOUNGS, opening in 2004. In 2007 ZCC was introduced to Happy Home.
Over the years, Laxmaiah and kalpana rani have overseen this special ministry for children ostracized by their culture. All of the children know the devastation of AIDS, having lost parents and many also infected with the HIV virus as well. The ministry is dedicated to the children under its care;
- introducing them to new life in Christ through Scripture, Godly example and guidance,
- providing a nurturing family environment, with awareness to hygiene and healthy food,
- linking the children to available medical services,
- and maintaining educational development in the face of cultural barriers.
Since 2008, ZCC Mission Teams look forward to their visits with the children of Happy Home, returning home with precious memories.
In 2009 ZCC became aware of the pressure to relocate that Happy Home was continually under. Due to the fear and stigma associated with AIDS, the ministry was forced to move fourteen times in its three years. Laxmaiah and his wife were diligently in prayer for a permanent home, and in 2010 “Freedom Ride 4” became God’s answer to prayer. Also in 2010 the “Pillar of Fire” USA came alongside the ministry through a child sponsorship program.
Five years later, Happy Home and its 80 children continue to thank God for a wonderful campus they call their own; a campus including gardens of vegetables and flowers, and even water buffalo that provide the children with fresh milk daily.
- On-going development of Happy Home requires campus modification to accommodate older children
– Initially Happy Home ministered to young children (aged 4 – 8)
– The success of the program (restoring physical and spiritual health) has resulted in growth from 20 to 60+ and maturing (40% now in the 12 – 16 age)
– Youth achieve independence when healthy at 17+
- Campus modifications to accommodate older children:
– Separate sleeping quarters for boys / girls
– Separate bathrooms for boys / girls
– Completion of other infrastructure requirements related to older children
- Alternative plans matched to available resources have been considered
- Existing campus buildings can be modified to house boys and girls separately
- Additional toilet facilities can be constructed to separately accommodate boys and girls
- Other infrastructure items (dining, study space and utilities) have been identified
- Modifications estimate: $50,000 – $65,000
–Detailed plans will be developed to match funds
- Happy Home continues to successfully minister to the neediest of children
- The Pillar of Fire, Z.C.C. and Star 99.1 community have significantly partnered with Happy Home since 2007
- Mud Run 2016 can be another important element in the continuing ministry by helping facilitate the accommodation of older children