HIV positive, Daxa Patel is the secretary of Gujarat Network of People Living with HIV Aids (GSNP+) which runs Janani Dham. Janani Dham, a brain child of Daxa, has been functioning since 2009 and is run in a private-public partnership. It is supported by Gujarat government’s Social Justice Department and Surat-based P P Savani Group. It rehabilitates girls and women who are HIV positive. Janani Dham is situated outside Surat.
In a report by The Times Of India, from the 54 girls that reside there, around 50 per cent of the girls are orphans while the others have only one parent. All of them consider Daxa as their mother. Five-year-old Chandani (name changed) was two months old when she was found abandoned by the Mehsana police at the railway station. Chandani was handed over to Daxa and has been at Janani Dham since then. Next year, Chandani will be admitted to a nearby school. Nandini, a 14-year-old HIV positive orphan girl who was brought to Janani Dham when she was six said, “Daxa is our mother. We owe our life to her.”
“These young girls have a right to live in society with dignity. Yet they face discrimination,” says Daxa. “Like every mother who dreams of a better future of her children, I too feel the same way for my 54 girls. I want to bring them back into the social mainstream by ensuring them quality education and facilities.” She said that all the staff of Janani Dham are also HIV positive.