Trans woman gets award for contribution to society

Over the past 54 years of her life, Noori Saleem has ferociously battled two of society’s greatest stigmas — being a transgender and having HIV. At 24, she was diagnosed with HIV, the third person to be officially declared, in 1987.

That’s when she decided to start the South Indian Positive Network for giving advice, information, and any other services for persons who are HIV positive. For her remarkable services, she is being awarded with a cash prize of `1 Lakh, a certificate and trophy at the 11th Dr Batra’s Positive Health Award ceremony held in Mumbai today, an award given for people who despite their physical disability have made a positive contribution to the society.

Born in Chennai, and orphaned at a very young age, Noori has been taking care of herself since the age of 13. She ran away from her house, unable to deal with the gender-identity crisis. Working as a sex-worker, she quit when she was tested HIV positive, and wished to help others like her. Today, she runs a shelter, SIP Memorial Trust, for orphaned and abandoned children who had HIV positive parents. The trust takes care of shelter, education, food, healthcare and more for all the 45 children presently. Apart from the home, she also takes care of 103 children outside. Many of the children have gone on to college and have good jobs.

Noori has received a number of awards from the Tamil Nadu government, including the Life Time Achievement award. She has also been recognised as the best woman social worker by Raj TV. Noori has travelled to over 26 countries like Canada, Japan, Australia, and Thailand as a public speaker on AIDS-related issues. Currently, Noori’s major project is the construction of a bigger home for the trust to accommodate more children, as the current home functions from a rented place. It is being funded by donations from HCL, Nadigar Sangam and others’ goodwill, but more is needed. “I’m also constructing a home for transgenders in Madurai,” she says.

To help with donations for the SIP Memorial Trust Home construction, visit www.siphome.org.
For details, call: 25503165