Every once and a while, we take in a gravely ill child that swiftly reminds us of what AIDS is really about. Earlier this year, we took in a 16 year old girl who had AIDS, TB and kidney failure. We did what we always do, namely got her TB under control and the doctors put in ports in her lower abdomen and our staff learned how to perform dialysis three times a day, with a bag of solution to cleanse her and they would carefully weigh solution going in and coming out.

Noot, Wan Pen, Wit, Tadum and Joom

The procedure worked fine for a while, until she got sick; several times with a low infection, and the last time the solution was not coming out in sufficient quantity. So, Noot had to go to the hospital last week, and when she got out, we took her to the University hospital in Khon Kaen, where the experts on AIDS practice. She went and returned on the same day. We had to fight her to take her ARV medicine. But yesterday, she took her medicine and was taken to visit her parents. Her mother and stepfather live on a big plot of land owned by Sarnelli House to raise fish, pigs and chickens. We are growing a garden there and most of the land will be rice paddy, if it ever rains. She loved being there and hoped to be able to come and grow things soon.

This morning, Noot was stirring and rummaging around as usual, so when the girls went in to do the dialysis, they were surprised to find her asleep. She lay peaceful and quiet, dead. Her relatives came from Sophisai to take her home for a Buddhist funeral. Noot has a little sister, Pia, that we hope Noot’s sponsor will take. When I got there the older girls who were Noot’s friends and the staff were all sobbing, and Noot was still warm. Pia clung to me but I don’t think she knew what happened. Little folk, all infected with AIDS, sat at a distance and watched everything unfold quietly. We will have Mass for Noot on Friday and also Saturday, with the children. Noot was Buddhist but had a big statue of the Blessed Virgin in her room and always had flowers there. She wore a rosary around her neck and a BVM medal. She wanted to study catechism. I know she is in heaven, and is now big sister to those wee ones of ours who died of AIDS years ago, like Dutch Michael, Nam Phon, Kirk, Knock and Josie.

But, that doesn’t make it easy.   

Fr Mike

May 13, 2010

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