Hero Dad Adopts 22 HIV Positive Children Who Were Abandoned By Birth Parents

Essel Pratt

A man from Mumbai has adopted 22 HIV-infected children who were abandoned by their birth parents and left to fend for their selves on the streets of India.

Rajib Thomas, better known by his children as Papa Reji and to India as Mister India, found a soft spot in his heart in 2007 when he met a young homeless girl that was infected with HIV. He was entering a hospital as the young girl begged for food outside, according to Metro.

"It was the year 2007 when I met an HIV-positive girl outside a hospital and she asked me to get some noodles for her. I couldn't get it that day but promised to come back again."
"The next day when I went there, I got to know that the girl was no more. I was devastated after hearing the news, so it was then that I thought of doing something for these children."

Two years later, Papa Reji and his wife, Mini Reji, moved into a larger home so they could be more comfortable as they adopted two more HIV-positive babies, both of which were newborns.

There were hardships along the way, as finances and space issues surfaced from time to time. However, Papa Reji and his wife take comfort in knowing that they are making a difference for the HIV-infected children.

In the beginning, Papa Reji could only afford one mattress for the children, where all four children slept. However, as news spread of his good deed and big heart, people started to donate beds, food, and even money to help out, according to the India Times.

Eventually, Papa Reji's family grew to 24 children, including two born from him and his wife, as families sent their HIV-infected children to him to care for.

"My wife has been a rock solid support and we've never differentiated between our children - we scold all of them, love all of them and give them the same gifts. My wife cooks for all 24 of our children, looks after their medication and takes them for their medical check ups. We've tried to give all of them a good education and make sure that they have a life worth living"

Papa Reji's family may have peaked at 24 children, but that does not mean it won't continue to grow if a child is in need. Since his first adoptions in 2007, Papa Reji has made it his mission to protect the children of HIV and love them as any father would.

"These children all call me 'Papa Reji' and it's the duty of a father to protect...so I'm not someone special - I'm just a father looking after my children."

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