World Aids Day 2016
December 1st. is World Aids Day. Rejoice was invited by Chiang Dao Hospital to attend a jamboree in Arunotai (Nong Ook) a sprawling frontier town on the Burmese border.
It was held at the same school as it was 4 years ago. We departed from Chiang Mai at 6 o’clock in the morning for the 2½ drive to the Border. We arrived at Arunotai High School to find that stalls had already been laid out, a stage set-up and students both young and old from all parts of Chiang Mai Province, together with soldiers, border guards and local police. Most of the children wore school uniform but some were dressed in their traditional tribal costumes.
They put on a good show with all the schools in the area attending and local dignitaries and the army. The group from Chiang Dao hospital organised a stall with information posters concerning HIV and Aids. Games and quizzes about HIV were held with prizes given to children who gave the correct answers to specific questions,if they gave an incorrect answer they were encouraged to read the information provided by the many posters and join the queue for another try - it was a very nice, fun way for children to learn.
The stalls were provided by various groups including ones from injecting drug uses, men who have sex with men, religious groups, ethnic groups etc. There was also a good turn out by the local police, army, and border guards giving free haircuts to children. There were art and writing competitions for the children with the common theme of HIV, what it is, how it is transmitted and how it can be prevented.
The various schools provided entertainment in the form of traditional songs and dance – everyone had a jolly good time.
We left Arunotai in the early afternoon and stopped for lunch at “The Chiang Dao Nest” on our return to Chiang Mai. We had a very happy day re-assured in that the young were receiving a good grounding and awareness of the HIV virus.
Similar events are held all over Thailand on World Aids Day; let us hope that the lessons learnt today will be remembered as the children grow into adulthood.
Below is a list of 10 pivotal moments in the HIV epidemic as provided by AVERT