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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