Daz and Carol have been long term supporters of Robert and his work and they also help directly with a few families and children in Goa. One of the children they help is HIV positive and had been staying in a hostel until a couple of years ago when they lost contact with her. Each journey they made to Goa, they tried their hardest to locate her, but had little success.
Last week, they heard reports that Kalpana was in Margao, so along with Robert, they took a drive down to try and locate her, but sadly, on arrival at the centre in Margao, we were introduced to another girl with the same name, but not the one we were looking for. One staff member suggested she had moved to Bangalore, another one maybe living near the Train Station. After another half hour of asking locals near the train station, we were no closer to finding Kalpana. Everyone was a little disheartened, but had a break for lunch and decided that the trip wouldn't be a complete waste and purchased a box of fruit which was distributed to a couple of the nearby slums, then returned home.
We continued asking around trying to locate Kalpana and finally had some encouraging news that she had been placed with another centre for HIV infected girls in the south of Margao.
Contact details were obtained and finally Daz and Caz were able to talk on the phone with Kalpana. The excitement was easily heard in her voice and a planned trip was organised for the weekend.
Sunday arrived and we hired a taxi to take us down. The journey seemed to go on forever, which wasn't really helped by the slow driving taxi driver. Along the way, we joked that when we finally arrived it would be yet another girl name Kalpana, and not 'our' Kalpana.
Eventually, we arrived at the HIV centre and were amazed by the glorious grounds it was situated in. As we drove up the drive, Kalpana was there crossing the road. We had to take a second glance to make sure it was her as since the last time Daz and Caz had seen her, she had cut her hair short and grown taller.
A happy hour was spent talking to her and looking round the grounds. Thankfully Kalpana said she was happy there and being well looked after. We spoke to the Nuns who run the centre and asked about sponsoring her education and medicine. We also said we'd like to return in a couple of weeks (Christmas!) to give her a small present and card.
The day ended with smiles all around and a tearful goodbye. Kalpana was given contact numbers so we could continue to stay in touch.
*Names have been changed for Child Protection Reasons.