Thursday, December 17, 2009

Educating Thailand's Youth

CAM staff teaching human sexuality and HIV awareness at a local private school.

CAM staff teach HIV awareness at all Church of Christ in Thailand's schools; they are often invited to teach in Thai government schools and many local universities as well.

CAM staff lead several training sessions on HIV prevention and sexuality each year. For many Thai students, CAM's trainings may be the only HIV education they receive.
Children participate in highly interactive activities like these where the kids learn how easily HIV is spread.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009

CAM Staff hold a sign with the 2009 theme for World AIDS Day. CAM joined several other NGOs to spread the word about HIV/AIDS during a public awareness campaign on December 1 2009.
CAM handed out red ribbons and bumper stickers to drivers at rush hour in Chiang Mai.

An important part of CAM's mission is to educate and increase public awareness on HIV/AIDS.

Youth ages 15-24 have one of the fastest growing infection rates in Thailand.There are currently more than 600,000 people living with HIV in the country, 250,000 of them are women over the age of 15 and 14,000 are children.

Wanida, A CAM Client, Receives New Habitat Home

President Carter put in a door on a home for the Habitat Project in Thailand.

Wanida, a CAM client who is living with HIV, worked alongside CAM staff and other volunteers to build a home for her family as part of the 2009 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Chiang Mai.

A tailor by trade, Wanida and her family had poor living conditions and limited access to clean water. CAM recommended Wanida as a good candidate for one of the 82 homes being built for the King's 82nd birthday. Wanida applied and was accepted. She worked hard each day alongside the other volunteers to build her new home, often being the first to arrive at the work site each morning and the last to leave each night.

CAM employees at the entrance to the 2009 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Mekong Build Project worksite.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

First Home Visit: A CAM Volunteer's Experience

My volunteer placement is with Christian AIDS Ministry (CAM);they work on HIV/AIDS awareness, education, and prevention in the Chiang Mai and the surrounding districts. As part of their mission, they also conduct home visits to local villages in the northern areas to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS receive the care and access to medicines that they need. After a week or so of reading materials and getting up to speed on their work, I had my first experience out "in the field".

We began by visiting a slum area here in Chiang Mai where about 300 people live. The minister and director of CAM, Ajan Sanan was doing a home visit to a woman living with HIV. Since there were a few of us foreigners with him, the woman agreed to tell us her story. A member of a local hill tribe family, she was sold to a brothel near the northern border at the age of 11. Since she spoke Lahu (rather than Thai), whenever she met a man who spoke her language, she would tell him about her situation and ask for his help in escaping. One man finally did help her get out, but the brothel owner found her and sent her to another brothel in southern Thailand. She escaped again and found her way to Chiang Mai. She now lives in a "home" she put together out of plywood. She has HIV, but is not open about her status out of fear of discrimination. She has taken in a younger woman who is a refugee and also has HIV. They live in the one-room home and make a living from selling items or giving back massages on the street. They use water from a hole for cooking and relieve themselves outside.

We sat there listening to their stories and trying to imagine how they live. As undocumented ethnic minorities and refugees, they don't qualify for healthcare benefits like Thai citizens do. CAM helps women like this get anti-retro viral medications that prolong their lives. The minister offered to pray with the women and asked them what they need. One woman asked for a new home and the other wanted a toilet. We sat around them in a circle, joined hands and prayed with them.

The next morning I arrived at CAM to find the minister hauling a toilet in the back of his truck to bring to the women and their neighbors in the slum. -Rachel, CAM Volunteer

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gone before their time

I was at the CAM office last week doing my usual thing, working on the computer, sending emails and organizing photos for our new youth peer photo project. I went to go get a cup of coffee and I saw my office director Jaruwan going through old photos of kids that CAM took care of back 10 years ago. I stopped to look at photos with her while she described the kids lives. All the kids looked so happy and Jaruwan had a big smile on her face as she was telling stories of these kids. Like the kids in the swimming pool. That was the first time any of them had ever been in a swimming pool. After she tells me the story, she has kind of a sad expression when she points to the young boy on the left of the swimming picture because he passed away shortly after that due to HIV/AIDS.
She said the boy was around 8 or 9 at the time of his death. All I could think about was that my oldest daughter was almost 8. I couldn't fathom losing her at such a young age.
She went on to describe the other kids in the pictures. Each one had her smiling as she reminisced about the laughs they shared and how they touched her life. During all of this she kept pointing at kid after kid and said he's passed away and she's passed away. I could feel the tears start to well up in my eyes. I felt so helpless. These kids didn't do anything wrong, yet they are the ones paying the price with their lives. In America these kids could have been saved with Anti-Retro-Viral medications. Over here it was a different story back then. Fortunately, the situation is better in Thailand now although we still have a long way to go. There are many kids that fall through the cracks and don't receive any treatment. CAM tries desperately to reach all the kids affected and infected by HIV. Please pray for all the forgotten children that are suffering with HIV/AIDS.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rot Nam Dam Hua, 2009

Rot Nam Dam Hua coincides with Songkran and The Lanna New Year. It is the time of year when we show respect for our elders and bless each other. Elders in the community sit at the head table and offer prayers and blessings for the new year. Water is then sprinkled on the community members as they come up to the table.

It is also a time to get together for fellowship and fun. A time to renew old friendships and create new ones.

After the festivities people lined up for the food that was prepared. Like many places in the world when there is a ceremony there is food. You would never go hungry in Thailand. Food is everywhere and the Thais are very generous.

Khun Luck showing us how it is done. CAM hosted this community event which was attended by several of the patients CAM sees on a regular basis. Fun was had by all.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Zoo trip for children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS

Children from several surrounding villages were invited by CAM to go on an outing to the Zoo. Some of the children had never been to the zoo before so this was a real treat. CAM sees a majority of these children on a regular basis and assists these families in dealing with HIV/AIDS. A number of these children will participate in a peer support and training group. The project will include the children photographing their lives and how HIV/AIDS affects them. They will put together scrapbooks/photo albums and then at the end of the year they will present it to their peers and the community.

This elephant is trying to hitch a ride on the shuttle bus. The children are trying to tell the elephant there is no room. They decide to give the elephant some food to distract it from trying to get on the bus again. The distraction worked.

All the kids drew pictures of their favorite animal and described what the animal does.

Playtime!!! I got the kids to pull me in the hanging basket. It was pretty tiring pulling a heavy farang. Poor kids.

We would have had more money for this project if it wasn't for this bird constantly stealing our money. Better luck next time I guess.

Best friends forever!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Public Health Training for volunteers

On the 22-23rd of Jan, 2009 CAM staff member Supaluck Nammuang was a guest speaker at a training seminar held at the Royal Floral Gardens in Chiang Mai. Ms. Supaluck working along with the Public Health Dept gave a speech to the volunteers from the " Ethnic Groups Public Health Office." The focus of the training was on disease prevention and sex education. The hope is that by training the trainers they will in turn educate their community.

Follow up visit to Chiang Dao

On the 12th of December, 2008 CAM staff members Mr Mit Pornimitsakul and Ms. Sasitorn Tinwongyuan visited HIV/AIDS ethnic groups (Lahu, Akha, Lawa and Kachin) living in Jiajan, Nong Khiow and Mai Samakey in the sub district of Chiang Dao within the province of Chiang Mai. The CAM staff received 6 boxes of donated clothes from various organizations to distribute to the poor people within the communities visited. CAM also purchased second hand jackets to give to 20 children that have been affected by HIV/AIDS in their community.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Church and Community Foster Care Project

This is the first meeting of the Church and Community Foster Care Project. The purpose of this particular project within the overall activities of CAM, is to train up and resource church members to provide family support for children and adults, who have been left unsupported by their own families due to sickness or death from AIDS. The goal is for a number of churches in the Chiang Mai district of Northern Thailand to seek ways to help families affected by HIV/AIDS and to offer this help in very practical ways, for example, in such a way that the church family becomes the extended family of AIDS orphans where there is no other family support. This may include helping with housing provision and upkeep, schooling costs and general day to day care. The idea is for individual churches to take on a form of family foster care, and to see this as a long term commitment to families until they are able to support themselves once more. The aim is that this project will become self sustaining, as the participating churches become good role models for other churches and as they seek ways to raise the finances needed from within local church and community.

Target groups: Year 1 of the project: 10 churches within CCT who are willing to participate in community AIDS care-each church sending 5 members for ongoing training in home based care.
The 2nd year of the project: Increase to 2 more churches
The 3rd year of the project: Increase to 5 more churches (resulting in at least 17 churches in community-church based care by the 3rd year.

The families and the churches will be selected mostly from hill tribe minority groups, but will also include Thai citizens/ethnic Thai churches in the city where there is extreme poverty and need.

CAM staff will select 10 churches to participate in the project, based on their previous experience in caring for people living with HIV/AIDS, and on evaluating the willingness and ability to participate in community care for families.
Each participating church will then select 5 members from within the church who will commit to receive training in community awareness of care of people with HIV, home based care and general education about HIV/AIDS.
Each participating church will at this point consider the potential families that may benefit from church foster support and be establishing relationship with them prior to training and commencement of the project.

The first of 4 training sessions will take place by CAM, for all participating members where basic AIDS teaching will be provided, awareness in community access to care , holistic care training and financial budgeting advice. Each church will be provided with a set amount of money for AIDS care through the church, which will be reduced on a percentage basis year by year, as the church family seeks ways to raise funds locally through themselves or through community access.
A further 3 training sessions will take place through the first year, with time for monitoring progress, evaluation through feedback on individual situations, and updating on new information, counsel and advice.

CAM staff will be available as a resource in person or on the phone, throughout the year, and will regularly maintain contact with the church members and families receiving support.

CAM staff will have initial overall responsibility for oversight of the funds. and assist with how they are distributed until the churches are able to take on full responsibility for themselves. CAM staff will be responsible for monitoring and evaluation through the year based on the feedback from church members and families. CAM will maintain contact with the donors and submit regular stories, photographs and auditing of funds.

Please pray for the all the Church and community members participating in this worthwhile project.