Why I Am Proud to Be the ‘Appa’ of 42 Children Living With HIV

Why I Am Proud to Be the 'Appa' of 42 HIV+ ve Children

Chennai-based Solomon Raj runs the Shelter Trust, where he cares for children living with HIV who have been abandoned by their relatives.

In 2005, Solomon Raj was contacted by Noori, a trans woman from Tamil Nadu, about an HIV positive child who had lost his mother. The child was only six years old at the time and had lost his entire family to the deadly virus.

For years prior, Solomon and his wife Felvia Shanthi, a Chennai-based couple, had been thinking of adopting a child before they had their own. So when they received Noori’s call, he knew what he had to do. He took in the six-year-old as his own.

Now, 17 years later, Solomon is ‘appa’ to 42 children living with HIV, who have been left behind or abandoned.

To formally care for the children, the couple runs the Shelter Trust, where they employ women living with HIV to work as on-call doctors, counsellors, accountants, and psychologists.

“My family and friends would often ask me, ‘Why are you doing this? These kids eat in the same place, play with your biological kids. Aren’t you scared for their safety?’ I cut off ties with most of them. I told them, ‘If you do not have anything good to say, don’t say anything bad either. Don’t discourage me or discriminate against my children,’” says the proud appa.

Watch how Solomon is giving abandoned children a safe haven: