Christmas Outreach Celebrations

On 22nd December 2012 the Christmas Party for the Outreach Program was celebrated. Over 40 adults who are living with HIV/AIDS attended and 22 children who are now able to attend school and gain an education had a fun filled few hours in the Mary and Joseph Hall in Don Wai. The girls from Nazareth House served the food and kept the children entertained and Fr Ole and Br Keng organised games for all.  Nourishing and tasty noodle soup was dished up, followed by lots of cake and coke. Warm blankets and clothes were given out as the cold season descends on Nongkhai.

Many of the adults with HIV/AIDS are now physically well as they continue on their life long ARV medication and attend the clinic in Don Wai for primary health care and peer support. Others still struggle with tiredness, diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure.  Some are still discriminated against and people have lost their jobs because it has got out that they have HIV/AIDS, and their children are often isolated and teased at school.  5 adults from the Outreach Program died in 2012 from HIV/AIDS and they left families without a breadwinner, forcing children to give up school and go to work to make money enough to buy food. A few were unable to tolerate the burden of their medications – the number of tablets can be overwhelming and the side effects they cause means that they must take more tablets. Despite close follow up by the Outreach Team 2 people died from stopping and starting their drugs which enabled the HIV virus to become resistant to their medications and not be effective. Others presented to the hospital too late with advanced disease and there was no way of reversing the illness.   In 2012 - 10 new people presented to the clinic with newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS and often with TB and other infections that would classify them as having full blown AIDS.  Despite the advances in treatment from 10 years ago – the stigma of HIV/AIDS is still very real and the awareness and knowledge of successfully treating the disease early on is not common knowledge in many communities.    However seeing the happy and appreciative faces at the celebration was inspiring, and we thank everyone for their support for the Outreach Program.