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Komal Panwar

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cACTus+ Activity With The Palace School Students On World Aids Day

  • IWB Post
  •  December 2, 2015


Our Day two of the AIDS campaign called cACTus + was when we headed to The Palace School! The first day, the children from Rays played, they giggled, they snatched paint brushes from each other, spilled paint, rubbed chalk off, but at the end of the activity, the pots made by the HIV+ children were a perfect replica of them.

Remember how on the first day, we collected cactus pots from two schools of Jaipur? It was time to take the pots back home. We reached The Palace School with their cactus pots and our cACTus HIV+ sheets. All students were seated on the chairs, with some giggling Rays students (in the form of cactus pots) sitting among them.


Well, isn’t that how they are usually treated? People keep distances from them just because of a dread that they might be infected with the disease.

“Hi, kids!” I said.

They all murmured a “good morning” ma’am. Nostalgia all over again! It was strange, though, that I was standing on the other end of the class. They were disciplined and quiet.

So I asked them, “What is AIDS?”

No answer.

Well, the teachers knew, but the students weren’t sure.

“Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome”, I said.

“This is no test, you guys! Relax, loosen up! Your answers can be crazy and funny.”

There were some nervous coughs, grins and whispers. I gave them some information on AIDS and asked them to write down what they feel the HIV+ children have to go through, and what symptoms they live with, on the cACTus HIV+ leaflets.

AIDS does not infect people by touching them or shaking hands. The people who are suffering from AIDS are also like us only, but their immune system is weak”, wrote Sejal Arora.

“AIDS is a massive disease, but the people who suffer from it die because of the partiality they face, not because of their disease,” said little Muskan Saraf.

I used to think that by touching people AIDS is transmitted, but not anymore!” said Nabila Abid.


Some, who didn’t know much, had different thoughts.

The people who are suffering from AIDS are not different from us. AIDS is spreading everywhere, but we should prevent it from getting spread. So we should wear a mask to prevent it whenever we are in contact with those people,” said Kartik Kala.

“The causative agent is a virus HIV. Their immune system is affected, and they are prone to catch many other diseases as resistance is low,” said ma’am Sumedha Tiwari


They all had different opinions! Some of them were wrong, some were right. Some children even believed that AIDS spreads by “kissing” (which is not true!)


So we decided to play a little awareness game! I asked them to hold their leaflets up and answer my questions flipping them. So if they agreed with what I said, they’d show me the front face of the leaflet, and if they disagreed, they’d flip it to show me the backside.

There is no difference between HIV and AIDS.


HIV is the virus and AIDS is a condition. When the HIV virus is active, one has AIDS.

AIDS spreads through kissing


Does NOT!

AIDS spreads if the same mosquito that bit an AIDS patient, bites you.



After the activity, we discovered how little we all know about the syndrome. Until a few days back, even I didn’t know the facts about AIDS.

We concluded the session by telling the children to consider the pots sitting amongst them as children just like themselves. One by one they got up and whispered wishes into the ears of those kids.


Before planting the pots back in the garden, the children of Palace School took them to the playground. They had never played with those kids before!



Photo Courtesy – Himanshu Goel

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