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Meet the American who runs the ‘House of Hope’ for HIV affected kids in Nagpur

In an interview with Nation Next, US citizen Jerry Hughes speaks about his own fight with HIV, his work through Hughes Foundation and the House of Hope in Nagpur and more.
Jerry Hughes (in the centre) along with his team members and HIV affected kids at the ‘House of Hope’ in Nagpur. (Photo by: abhishek Thakare/Nation Next)

Jerry Hughes, an American citizen, was diagnosed with HIV in 2004. Jerry, who was working as an advertising professional in the United States of America, chose not to get bogged down and took the control of his life in his own hands. By his own confession, the American, who would visit Nagpur often for speaking at youth camps, fell in love with Nagpur on his very first visit to the city. On a mission to eradicate the stigma related to HIV and AIDS and help affected people, Jerry founded the Hughes Foundation in Nagpur, which also has its presence in the US and Africa. One and half years back, Jerry founded the House of Hope in Nagpur. The house, today, is home to orphans suffering from HIV. In an exclusive interview with Nation Next, Jerry Hughes speaks about his own fight with HIV, his work through Hughes Foundation and the House of Hope and the stigma prevalent in the society relating to HIV and AIDS. Excerpts:

House of Hope? is home to kids suffering from HIV. Tell us more about it?

Before setting up House of Hope, through Hughes foundation, we would focus on partnerships with other orphanages and work at places where HIV organisations worked, but I felt a certain lack of satisfaction. So, I started House of Hope, which provides shelter to kids suffering from HIV. We also take care of their schooling, different recreational classes and other necessities of their life. The basic difference between House of Hope and any other organisation is that each and every person here is affected with HIV in some or the other way. These people can discuss and talk freely with each other as they share the same problems.

You yourself are HIV positive. What health-related problems do HIV patients go through? How does it affect a person emotionally?

For me personally, I’ve had no physical problems because I have always received proper treatment. When a person accepts the fact that he/she has HIV and takes the proper treatment, the person can live a very normal long-term life. If somebody has HIV and they don’t know what HIV means and fail to take medical treatment, they can face a lot of physical and health related problems like cancers and tumors. For me, HIV has affected me more emotionally than physically. After the detection of the disease, my family members distanced themselves from me, which caused me a lot of emotional stress.

People usually perceive HIV and AIDS to be the same thing?

I’ve never had AIDS. I was diagnosed with HIV. There are a lot of immunity related problems a person with HIV goes through. If one does not get proper treatment, they can have AIDS. Having AIDS means that a person has a very weak immune system and his/her inner body is substantially damaged because of the disease.

In an interview with Nation Next, US citizen Jerry Hughes speaks about his own fight with HIV, his work through Hughes Foundation and the House of Hope in Nagpur and more.
Jerry Hughes (Photo by: Abhishek Thakare/Nation Next)

What kind of discrimination do people suffering from HIV face from society?

Due to lack of awareness, people usually treat HIV patients in a discriminating way. They don’t interact with patients thinking that they may get infected by the disease themselves, which is certainly not the case. The actual problem is the stigma prevalent in the society. Money, social status and many other factors also play an important role in the way people treat those suffering from HIV. If your financial status is good, you have a job and a proper medical treatment, people will treat you the same way as someone who does not have HIV. But if you are poor, people might treat you differently. I’ve never faced such treatment from the society and neither any of my kids from House of Hope as we always managed to give them proper treatment. Different stories of people dying and getting cancer is the main cause that creates stigma among people and fear of HIV. Also, most people have never met someone talking positive about HIV.

What according to you should be done to spread awareness among people about HIV and AIDS?

There are two ways through which we can spread awareness about HIV. Firstly, we can support the people diagnosed with HIV and ensure that they live a normal public life. There are 42 million people in the world who are living with HIV and India ranks third with most number of AIDS and HIV patients. If we can talk to them and help them feel normal about their problem, we can prevent the spread of HIV.

You run a fun and informative video series HF Scooter Cam? on YouTube. Tell us something about it.

Scooter Cam is a fun project wherein we ask common people the usual questions that arrive in our minds when we think of HIV. As part of the Scooter Cam? series, we, in the past, have asked Nagpurians questions like – Can a mosquito bite cause HIV? The idea is to break the ice by making everybody relaxed and then talk about HIV. I started it to prevent HIV being perceived as so scary.

Also, I feel, being a foreigner, talking to people here about HIV is a bit easy for me as people readily accept the things I say. If I may have been an Indian affected with HIV, I might have got pushed away by the people. My identity as a foreigner changes the way people think of people living with HIV. As a foreigner, I think, a foreigner gets more attention from people in India, which I find very interesting.

There are several countries that put a ban on HIV and even deport citizens infected with HIV?

In a developed country like America, people with HIV could not freely move around cities till 2009. But President Obama then lifted the ban, which was enacted in 1987. People forget that even America was one of those countries with a ban on people with HIV traveling to their country. Even I was stopped from entering some countries, while traveling.

Having said that, I think, things are changing now. But some misconceptions and laws are still there, which keep reminding me that that the country I belong from also bans people diagnosed with HIV. It’s of course not right but I think fighting with it in a positive manner matters more. Instead of wars, fighting, screaming or hurting people, my way of reforming the world is through creating more units of House of Hope? and foundations to support people with  HIV.

What changes have you brought through Hughes foundation? How do you manage to get funds for the same?

The biggest change that Hughes Foundation has brought is that it has been successful in creating a positive influence among people whether they are living in India, South Africa or America. I think the biggest change that can be brought whether you are living with HIV or not is that everybody can learn something with the help of the bad things, which have happened taken place in their lives. We all go through hard times but if someone can get inspired through my story or the children at House of Hope, it would be great.

The funds we get for Hughes Foundation or House of Hope are 100% from the donations. There is no government or business funding. Our way of communicating with people is through social media.

For the future, we plan to create many more units of House of Hope. We are already in the process of creating the 2nd House of Hope. Our focus will be on kids who have abandoned because they suffer from HIV and on adults, who are struggling to find a job.

You have lived with HIV for 14 years now. How did HIV change your perspective towards life?

When I was diagnosed with HIV, it gave me a sense of purpose in life. It gave me the strength to do something different rather than being buried with negative questions in my head. My message to everybody would be to take something bad in life and turn it into good by creating a purpose out of it.

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Nagpur News

RMBRCN celebrates Charter Presentation & Installation, Rina Sinha becomes Charter President



The Rotary Means Business chapter of Rotary Club Of Nagpur (RMBRCN) celebrated their Charter Presentation and Installation of Board on September 17, 2023 in a crisp official ceremony at Hotel Centre Point, Nagpur.

Rotary Means Business encourages Rotarians to support the success of their fellow Rotarians by doing business with them and by referring others to them.

Charter President Past President Rtn Rina Sinha presided over the ceremony. Renowned entrepreneur and Rotarian Aspi Bapuna, Chairman of Bapuna Group, was the Chief Guest and  Rtn Namita Sharma, President of RCN, was the Guest of Honour.

The Board of Directors of RMBRCN include Rtn Navneet Jain, Vice President, Rtn Mohammed Master, Honorary Secretary, Rtn Sanjay Aggarwal Treasurer, Rtn Rakhi Bhatia Director Chapter Service, Rtn Rahul Shrivastava, Director Vocational Service, Dr Ruchi Choudhry, Director Membership Development, Ranjana Duseja, Director Attendance.

Past Rotary District Governor (PDG) Shabbir Shakir, Past Presidents- Bharat Goenka , Khushnoor Chugh, Sanjiv Chugh, Akhtar Parvez, Tejinder Singh Rawal, Alok Goenka,  Jerestine Watchmaker, Sandeep Dhodapkar, Sanjay Arora, President RMB Nagpur, and Behram Patel and Amitabh Sinha were present.

President Rina Sinha informed that within a short period of its formation already 48 members representing various businesses  have joined the chapter and the numbers are increasing . The Chapter has already crossed 5 crores of business amongst their members and RMB will further strengthen Rotary in membership growth and retention .

Chief Guest Rtn Aspi Bapuna lauded the chapter’s success and reiterated that its comfortable and safe to do business among fellow rotarians as all follow the Four Way Test of Rotary. Jerestine introduced President Rina. Aspi Bapuna  presented the charter and installed President Rina Sinha . Rtn Namita congratulated the RMB chapter and informed that this is the new initiative at RCN.The Board was installed by Rina Sinha and all members were installed by the Past Presidents. An exclusive digital Monthly Magazine ‘Growth Engine’ was launched by Editor Niharika Chugh Vali.

 Navneet Jain and Rahul Choudhry conducted the referral and thank you session where enthusiastic members informed about their successful business details. Nishchay Sinha launched the social media and MYRMB app which connects members to other chapters digitally, Treasurer Sanjay Agarwal gave treasurers report, Rtn Rakhi Bhatia managed the event. Rtn Parag Datey and Niharika were the Masters of Ceremony (MOCs). Secretary Mohammed Master proposed the formal Vote of Thanks .

Also read: Jayaswal Neco group celebrate BL Shaw’s 90th Birthday, 50th Founder’s Day in a huge gala event in Nagpur

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Nagpur News

Nitin Gadkari inaugurates double-decker electric bus availed for senior citizens in Nagpur



Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, on Saturday, inaugurated the double-decker electric bus designed for senior citizens in Nagpur. The initiative has been undertaken in association with Ashok Leyland’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Committee and Jyeshtha Nagarik Pratishthan.

Executive President of Jyeshtha Nagarik Pratishthan Datta Meghe, Vice Chairman of Ashok Leyland Limited Yash Sachar, CEO of Switch Mobility Mahesh Babu, and other dignitaries were present during the inauguration.

“I am very thankful to Ashok Leyland’s electric vehicle arm ‘Switch Mobility’ for donating an electric bus for our senior citizens. The bus can hold a capacity of 65 people and will benefit a lot to disabled and senior citizens,” Gadkari said.

“We already have a green Electra bus available to us for the past five to six years. Krishna Reddy has taken the responsibility of repairing and providing air-conditioning to the bus, moreover, he is providing us with one additional bus. A Tata Motor bus will be arriving this month as well, giving us a total of four buses to operate. This will solve the issue of waiting list due to the lack of buses for senior citizens in the city.” he added.

With the help of these buses, senior citizens can avail the benefit of free trips to religious places like Ambhora, Adasa, Shegaon, Mahur, Dhapewada, and Kalamb.

Also read: NMC confiscates 117 PoP idols, collects Rs 10,000 fine from seller


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Nagpur News

Nagpur: Married man accused of girlfriend’s rape commits suicide on Facebook live



A 38-year-old married man named Manish alias Raj Yadav, on Sunday, committed suicide during a Facebook live-stream after allegedly being accused of rape by his girlfriend and her family in Nagpur.

During the live stream, Manish, who was married and a father to three children, stated that his 19-year-old girlfriend, Kajal, along with her family members demanded a sum of five lakh rupees and threatened to press charges of rape if he failed to do so.

On September 6, the situation became grave as the woman’s family accused him of eloping after Kajal went missing from her residence.

The deceased refused the claims of having any sexual relationship with the woman and identified her, her family, and a photo studio operator responsible for his condition. He, then, jumped into the river.

After the live video surfaced online, Kalamna Police launched a search operation and recovered the deceased’s body from the river. Four people have been detained in the case for questioning. Further investigation is underway.

Also read: NMC confiscates 117 PoP idols, collects Rs 10,000 fine from seller

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