Wednesday, October 10, 2007


In September, Buddhist monks, nuns, and the people of Burma, demonstrated for peace and freedom. The Burmese junta responded with violence, causing more than 200 deaths. Thousands have been imprisoned, receiving inhumane treatment.

As a response to this violence, the Interfaith Group for Peace in Burma has been formed, to show spiritual solidarity and call for peaceful transformation in Burma.

On Thursday evening, 4th of October, about 250 people, including Buddhists, Moslems and Christians, gathered at Buddhasathan, Chiang Mai, for prayer for peace in Burma. The meeting was conducted in Burmese, Thai and English, with representatives from each of the three faiths, leading in prayer.

Many photos of the violence were displayed, T-shirts calling for peace in Burma were for sale, and traditional songs and dancing were performed.

This is all part of a number of activities, over 4 days, including three peace walks, discussion and films about Burma.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Saturday Morning Peer Group

Once a month, on a Saturday morning, a group of people who are HIV positive, gather at CAM for fellowship and support. CAM staff lead the group, encouraging input from all participants. They share their dreams and problems in a non-threatening atmosphere of caring and compassion. There is lots of laughter.

The people enjoy many different activities, and plan outings and bus trips together. The morning concludes with a shared lunch.

For the people involved, this is a very important group. As they share together, they grow in confidence, and find security in this affirming, loving family.

Monday, September 17, 2007


CAM has pioneered home visits to people with HIV/AIDS.
For 17 years they have been travelling to villages and towns throughout Northern Thailand bringing spiritual and practical help to people in their homes. They encourage each individual to be open about his/her condition and enlist the help of family and community members. They help the afflicted to access the necessary medication and follow up with regular visits to monitor the condition of the patient and check that he/she is receiving the necessary care.
The light of Christ shines through these compassionate workers bringing love and hope to the people they serve.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Archived blog posts

PLWHA Group in Nan (Saiyarak AIDS Group )
(Saiyarak – means “stream of love and concern”)

For the last 2 years, CAM staff has been invited to participate in ongoing teaching about AIDS prevention and protection, and care in the PLWHA group in Amphur Bua, Nan province. On each trip to Nan, the CAM staff utilize the time in traveling to pass through and visit people living on route who have been in contact with CAM previously and are living with HIV/AIDS. These visits provide essential encouragement and an opportunity to asses the health and social status of the individuals concerned. CAM staff report noticing that overall their health is good, and the number of deaths is reducing over the years mainly due to better access to health care through the government provision, as well as access to the ARV drugs.

During May their activities included:-

a) Youth / child training

CAM’s role has been specifically in teaching children and young people, through talking about family care, and protection issues relating to HIV/AIDS. So on May 13-14th CAM staff visited Nan province and held activities for training for the PLWHA groups. The teaching included basic knowledge about HIV, sexual education and latterly looking at risk behaviours and attitudes, and enabling children to discuss and ask questions more openly. On this occasion 54 people attended the seminar/ activity days, which included 38 children and their care-givers, and 4 children with HIV themselves. The children who attended were either living with extended family members, in hostel care ( for the benefit of attending senior schooling away from distant mountain villages) or under the care of the local church. The children in this group meet 3 monthly, though CAM budgeting does not allow for CAM staff to attend these meetings every time.

b) Group counseling for children and adults

Problems and issues of concern for the whole group and for individuals are discussed, and there is opportunity for each person to express their feelings and their needs in an open and honest atmosphere. The staff from CAM, although only visiting 1-2 times a year have a good and trusting relationship with the families in the group, so that they are often the reference point of contact, by phone when families face new or existing difficulties. Through the local church link-up and networking some of these families receive scholarship support, opportunities for income generation, and pastoral support form church members as appropriate. The group meets, as adults, each month, through government support and other organizations locally working with HIV, but CAM staff are invited to participate in seminars and training. If the CAM budget allowed for it, they would prefer to be able to visit more frequently than one/two times a year and establish a firmer partnership with this group and with the church locally in order to promote better acceptance of the problems of families living with the affects of HIV amongst the church and wider community. In April 2007, many of the group were able to attend a special day at CAM office in Chiang Mai, and link up with many other similar HIV support groups also linked with CAM, and in this time receive encouragement and support, as well as a fun day together.

CAM/PLWHA "City" Group
CAM/PLWHA ‘city’ group
For many years CAM has been a part of the support network of a group of PLWHA in the city, main area of Chiang Mai, and people in need locally come to the CAM office for support, counseling, drug-medical advice and just for encouragement and friendship. In previous years there was a clinic held at the office every Tuesday, for people to drop in for advice, with a Doctor in attendance. The need for this has reduced, due to the improving health overall of individuals, and consultations as needed are made by phone contact or by referral. Individuals and families within the group, through meeting together regularly are able to offer peer group support, and solve problems internally, among themselves.
This particular group is able to meet, at the CAM office, every month, on the last Saturday of the month. This month about 30 people came, mostly adults. The CAM staff provides opportunity for peer support and discussion, and specific training related to good self-health care, attitudes and the recent issues related to Compulsory Licensing. These meetings provide time for people to receive individual and group counseling as needed, and to share knowledge and experiences over the fellowship of sharing a meal together. May is often a hard month for these families, since this is the start of a new school term and time for the purchasing of new school uniforms, books and also time to pay school fees. Many families, through CAM and other networks, such as Project Lek (Agape Home) are able to receive help in the form of scholarships. Due to the locality of this group, and close proximity to the office, the members of this particular group visit more often, and pass by for advice in person more frequently, as well as contacting staff by phone. Members in this group meet on a Saturday usually, since they are working in the week in a number of employment options including as care-givers of children at Agape Home (HIV orphanage), handicraft training (Baan Handicraft), housemaids, and also selling produce in local markets. CAM helps new comers to the group network with local supportive employment opportunities.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Home visit following house fire

Last week CAM staff visited a family whom they have been supporting for a number of years, alongside Project Lek. The grandfather of the family works hard to care for his three grandchildren, having lost his daughter and son-in-law to HIV/AIDS several years ago. Gan is the oldest grand daughter,aged 14, and she takes on responsibilities in the home as well as completing her studies well at school. In the recent house fire that destroyed their outside kitchen/ storage area all her school books and uniforms were burnt so CAM, the local community and Agape Home ( Project lek) have helped replace these. The second grandchild, a boy is aged 9 and he also attends school and helps out round the house and with child care. Both these children are well and free from HIV infection thankfully. The youngest grandson has multiple problems, including HIV. He has severe autistic tendencies, requires 24 hour care, and this is provided by his grandfather or a neighbour who helps out for 30 baht a morning, when the grandfather is able to find work locally. This family already struggle socially and financially to live to exist and feed and clothe themselves daily, so the fire at night that destroyed the kitchen/ storage area and all its contents was an added burden. CAM staff continue to visit and help the family restore their lost items, and link them with available community support following this disaster. Hopefully a new kitchen will be reconstructed before too long. In the light of this apparent tragedy, the family stay hopeful and grateful for support from groups like CAM, and they are thankful that the fire did not spread to their newly built house where they were all asleep at the time of the fire.
Posted by CCT AIDS Ministry at 9:03 PM 0 comments
Home visits to families living with HIV/AIDS

Recently one CAM staff member, Khun Ploy, took me on a home visit with her to see a blind lady, aged 32 yrs, living with her mother, aged 78 years. Supit ( the blind lady) is HIV positive,becoming infected through the sex trade 12 years ago. She became blind, due to CMV in the eyes, about 6 years ago. Since that time she has been living with her elderly mother, and the two of them try to eke out a living with small work projects from their home. They live in a home that was repossed by a bank, and hope to be able to continue living there. Supit now has a shining smiling face, she is well on ARV medications, and gains support and encouragement to make the best of their lives despite her illness and their poor living conditions. Supit looks forward to the visits of CAM staff-which are a source of encouragement, as well as finding out how they are both doing. Financial support is offered occassionally, but not regularly, in order to continue promoting the other comunity support and their independence. Future needs of Supit will need to be considered int he event of Supit's mother being unable to care for her.
Posted by CCT AIDS Ministry at 8:34 PM 0 comments
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Case Study- from CAM staff member

Khun Yasi is a 29 year old Lahu man, who is HIV positive and receiving support from CAM staff. His wife, also HIV positive, died just over a year ago, leaving a daughter, aged 16, from her previous first marriage. The daughter is negative. Yasi cared for his sick wife and step daughter, until his wife died. He initially reacted badly to finding out that he too was infected by the virus, and resented CAM staff visiting his wife and child at first- so much so that at one point in a visit he physically attacked the Lahu staff member of CAM. CAM staff continued to visit and be a support, monthly and more often if needed, especially when his wife was close to dying and the family needed much support in all ways. Since his wife’s death, Yasi has been more able to accept his own state of health, which was at one point in decline, but is improving now with access to ARV drugs. Initially Yasi had bad reactions and allergies to his medications, but was swapped to different medications and now is coping well. He has no Thai citizenship, but is able to access the drugs free via a government scheme, but CAM project helps with hospital costs and the costs of necessary blood tests. The role of CAM is one of financial help, but more importantly of providing emotional and spiritual support. On the monthly visits, the CAM staff member gives a renewed sense of hope and belonging, helps with daily food needs if Yasi has been unable to find work that month and recently ( in May/June) CAM and caring neighbours enabled a new house to be built to replace the old house that was falling apart! Yasi was also part of the house building workforce, as well as CAM and volunteers. The daughter, since her mother’s death, lives with a teacher, near to her school, and was able to pass by the old house and visit her stepfather often. Due to their similarity in ages, it was deemed more appropriate that she did not continue to live with her stepfather, though their relationship is a good and caring one. Unfortunately the new house is not on route from her school and lodgings, so her visits may be less frequent. The teacher enables the daughter to live with her for free, but she helps with caring for smaller children in a hostel for young children nearby, and she is responsible for her own care in all aspects. Sometimes she is not sure whether she will have enough money to buy food by the end of the month. The school fees are expensive and beyond the reach of both Yasi and herself, but thankfully the school are understanding of this and for the last 2 years she has not had to pay school fees. This in itself is good, though she feels embarrassed by this, and her school friends tease her as to why she doesn’t pay her fees. In the past CAM has helped with her fees, and is actively seeking sponsorship for the remaining 3 years of school-presently she is in M3, and hopes to study to M6. Her teacher says she is a good and hard working student who could easily study further into university. Her wish is, provided sponsorship can be found, is to be able to study further, even if this means working in the daytime and continuing further studies at weekends/ evening school.
This is an example of how CAM works closely with individuals, networking with local people to help improve their quality of life, and trying to find ways of providing meaningful ongoing support.
Posted by CCT AIDS Ministry at 8:13 PM 0 comments
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Helping those without hope
Case Studies from A.Sunan for week 28 May /June 3rd

On month ago, Khun Udom came down from Nonthaburi. He was very sick at the time and collapsed on the train and was taken to the university hospital. He was travelling to see his family because he was aware of his illness and was seeking support. He was in the hospital for about a week before he was discharged prematurely and unable to pay his hospital bill. A Buddhist monk found him in his hospital gown sitting outside of a government building, having been left there with no home or family to go to, and the monk called A.Sanan to help him. A.Sanan was going to take him to a homeless shelter but realizing that he was too sick to live in the shelter A.Sanan took him to a government hospital for care. The man was isolated at the hospital because of his advanced AIDS and his TB. At the hospital, A.Sanan contacted the social welfare department to establish support for his hospital treatment. CAM’s role was to continually visit him in the hospital and provide support as needed. A.Sanan had visited him 4 or 5 times and he was improving and the hospital reported that he would be ready to leave soon. His next destination was to be Bangkok where he would stay in a home run by Catholic Franciscans, as organized by the networking of CAM staff. The hospital had to write a referral letter of discharge in order for the man to go to this home. He went to Bangkok on the bus, with the fare paid for by CAM. He had a more expensive ticket because he needed to be kept separate due to his TB and he needed to lie down due to his weakness and poor health status. The problem within CAM is that there is no budget for this type of care within CAM or in the social welfare system for this type of emergency situation for the extremely poor. CAM provided some but not all of the bus fare because they are also working with the relatives to help care for the man and take some of the responsibility for their relatives care upon themselves, though they would not receive him into their family home. So the family was to provide the rest of the bus fare but CAM provided well over half of the fare. He arrived this past Thursday in Bangkok and is receiving care from the Franciscans. This is an example of how the poor who suffer from HIV/AIDS and sadly their family doesn’t take responsibility for them and CAM takes an active role to try to get the family helping as much as possible. The man has a wife and child in Bangkok but he is divorced from her already. The family is more afraid of the TB than the AIDS. A contact of CAM, working at World Vision is going to help make sure the man receives hospital care in Bangkok as needed. CAM’s involvement has been networking to make sure he can receive the proper medical care and financial support. The time that CAM has helped in Chiang Mai has seen the man advance from not being able to stand to being able to travel on his own to Bangkok, albeit still very sick. It took about a month to be working in this situation to enable him to be in a safe and good place receiving dignified care , through the support and networking of CAM.

In the same week A.Sanan received a referal call about a man called Somchai . The phone call was from a retired policeman known to A.Sanan ,who has a security company and knew that CAM staff helps people in difficulty. Somchai was a previous worker known by the policeman, and he found him lying very sick at his company grounds. Somchai had been taken to a government hospital and he was very sick but the hospital wouldn’t admit him because he is from Burma and any paperwork he had was out of date and invalid. A.Sanan was called because he knew he could help find the man some care. On Wednesday morning, A.Sanan contacted Migrant AIDS Foundation, which works with migrant workers and illegal citizens. A.Sanan gave a phone number to the policeman to follow up since A.Sanan was busy with the first case and couldn’t do much more that day. On Wednesday evening, A.Sanan went to see the Somchai himself. The man was staying in the security area. He had a stiff neck, itchy arms, high fever, sores, and he was clearly confused which is a sign of a serious infection in his head. He had a prescription for medicines from the first hospital that he went to but he couldn’t afford to pay for them so A.Sanan took the prescription and bought the drugs with his own money. Somchai’s illness was so bad that he needed advanced medical care. The hospital weren’t going to take him back so he took him to a hospital that evening in Sansai who are used to taking cases refered by CAM staff and with whom they have a good working relationship. A.Sanan kept in contact over the phone with the hospital and they said he was stabilizing but very sick but then on Friday night he passed away. No one came for his cremation, he had no family or anyone to care for him. This is an example of an increasingly common problem where migrant workers have come to Chiang Mai without any family or financial support, they get sick, and have no one to help them. CAM wants to help more people like this but their emergency home is full much of the time and there is no money in the budget for this type of emergency case , however CAM seeks to find future funding to enable more people to be helped. Hospitals, such as the government hospital at Sansai, where there is a good working relationship with CAM are as supportive as they can be, but they too have to run on a strict budget, but CAM acknowledges the acceptance of places like this.
Posted by CCT AIDS Ministry at 11:13 PM 0 comments
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Changkham Church Project Camp
Changkham Church Project Camp
In May CAM was invited to participate in and run a children’s programme through the Changkham church group. CAM is actively involved in this project in a number of ways, and was able to provide the training and experience for a Family Camp, held from 29march-1st April in Pattaya. This camp/ retreat enabled time for training in sexual health, general health care, family care and other HIV related issues, all in the context of Christian family care. 30 children attended the camp, 12 of whom were from Baan Nam Jay, the rest from the church project youth group. This was a time for mutual support and encouragement, for learning new attitudes and behaviours and evaluating their level of knowledge and understanding about HIV. The budgeting for this part of the Changkham project work came from the CCT, Thai First church members, and individual registration. Family camps, and retreats such as this for the youth, are valuable times of learning and social interaction, and CAM trusts that future budgeting will enable further activities to take place.
Posted by CCT AIDS Ministry at 8:03 PM 0 comments
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Home care support in Saraphi

2. Home care support in Saraphi

On 29August three CAM staff met with 10 people living with HIV/AIDS, in one group member’s house for half a day. Over a shared meal, provided by CAM, and the familiarity of their homes, the CAM staff encouraged the group members to be more open about their feelings regarding their life and HIV/AIDS. There were 4 men and 6 women, and all members participated fully and honestly. Firstly they were encouraged to think about the past-how did they feel when they first knew they had HIV? Without exception they all spoke of fear of being ill, shame and fear of dying. They were then encouraged to think and express how they feel now, 1year on from diagnosis, or even 6 years on for some in the group. They said they still have feelings of fear and shame, but less severe. Now they have a sense of hope through better knowledge and understanding about the virus and how to care for themselves. The advent of access to ARV medication has really helped too. Finally they were asked to express what they are concerned about regarding the future. Most spoke about their children and their future-what will happen to them when they become too sick to care for them? And will they stay healthy enough to keep working and supporting their family too? These thoughts and feelings were expressed through verbal expression as well as by use of artwork. When asked to draw what they dreamed about most wanting, they drew houses-many desire to have their own house rather than renting or relying on staying on the floor of a friends house-and those with children want to be able to leave security for their children. Through these explorations of feelings, CAM staff are able to empathize, encourage and together seek ways to ease some of the negative feelings that arise from living with HIV/AIDS.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CAM : Volunteers

We are Jeff and Jan from Australia, both retired school teachers.Our home church is Tusmore Memorial Uniting Church in Adelaide, SA. This is our second placement in Thailand. In 2004 – 2005, we taught English at Chiengrai Vittyakhome School in Chiengrai.

This time, we are working with CAM. When we came,we did not know exactly what we were going to do, but trusted God for the work he had for us. He had not disappointed us.

We are in the process of making a DVD for CAM to encourage both prayer and financial support. We have marvelled at the doors God has opened.

As we have participated with the CAM staff in the various aspects of their work, we have learnt an amazing amount about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Thailand. We have found the CAM staff to be multi-skilled, compassionate and hard working. Many, many HIV/AIDS sufferers have been helped spiritually and practically through their loving care.

May God continue to bless the work of this dedicated group.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Life skill training for teenage girls

CAM staff have also been able to have regular input in the Prince Royal School, another CCT school in Chiang Mai. In the previous 2 years CAM has facilitated life-skill training camps for female students aged around 14 years, especially for students of relatively wealthy Thai families but who are exhibiting social or behavioural difficulties at school. Part of the camp work involves taking these students to see other people living locally to them who are in much greater need materially, yet able to live well socially. They visit places such as orphanages so that the students can hopefully, alongside the life-skill teaching, can come to a better appreciation of their own family and society whilst at the same time appreciating the reality of life for others less fortunate than them. These camps have led to ongoing friendships, and relationship building across the strata of society.
This year CAM held 5 days of training at the school for girls in B.6 , aged 11-12 years. They were divided into 4 groups of around 30-50 students each day and were taught in imaginative and creative ways about general health care including good nutrition, personal hygiene and self-care, as well as training in prevention and protection from AIDS. These are a vulnerable age group, on the verge of teenage years, so this is an important stage to educate about sexuality and safe behaviours. This age group is at a receptive age for teaching about morals and ethics, and to teach about growing self care responsibilities. Through all the teaching attention is paid to promoting and maintaining language that is both non stigmatizing and non discriminatory when talking about HIV/AIDS. On the fifth day CAM worked with a group of around 100 older teenagers who have formed a Christian union in the school. They received similar teaching and were encouraged to be good role models for their peers. In the future more activities may be continued with this particular group, to raise up a peer group of interested and trained students to advocate for CAM and its ministry outreach to young people.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Schools Work at CAM –July/Aug 2007

For the past 5 years CAM staff have been invited to participate in the education programme of Dara School, a Christian based school under the governance of the CCT. CAM staff provide contextual training in life-skills, and for the sessions they link up with teams of CCT church youth who provide games and entertainment in the day for the students, as a backdrop to the training given by CAM staff. This year the programme was with M.5 year, in the high school, with around 500 students, aged 16-17 years, receiving participatory training in issues such as sexuality, morality-ethics, family life, AIDS protection and prevention and knowledge about AIDS and other STIs. The training took place in July 26-27th, with the students split into 2 groups of around 250, and took place at a Chiang Mai University facility. Over the past 5 years of regular input with this particular age group, CAM staff have noticed a growing trust and acceptance of the CAM staff by individual students, some of whom seek advice and counsel from CAM individually after the meetings, or even 1-2 years later.