The Rejoice team left Chiang Mai for the 4 hour journey to Mai Ai. The first port of call was Mae Ai hospital, a small rural hospital on the main road between Thaton and Fang. Here the team met up with HIV volunteer healthcare workers Deang and Loy.
After a quick roadside lunch it was off to the Mekok River Village Resort to meet Rosie Massingham, Community Project Coordinator to discuss arrangements for the annual visit of pre-medical students from Bankok Patana International school and and also this year Repton School Dubai. The objective for the schools is to introduce their international pre-med students to health care in the rural areas of Thailand, in particular the care of people living with HIV.
This year it is planned that the students will spend 2 days visiting patients from Mae Ai, Chai Prakan and Chiang Dao hospitals.
Suwannee is 16 years old. She is HIV+ve, infected at birth from her mother. Her father and mother have both died through Aids related illness. After her parents had died Suwannee lived for a time with her grandmother in Mae Ai and later moved to Bangkok to find work. Whilst in Bangkok she met her boyfriend and became pregnant. The baby girl, Orasa,was born on 1st. November 2015.The couple decided it would be better to return to Mae Ai where Suwannee’s grandmother could help look after the baby. They all now live with grandmother in a small house. The boy is looking for work but he is finding it difficult to secure a permanent job. The baby needs formula milk (breast feeding could infect baby with HIV) which was provided free by the government for the first year but now it is not free.On 9th May 2017 Rejoice visited the family and saw the conditions and predicament the young family find themselves in. Rejoice will provide formula milk for the baby and seek sponsorship to help the family overcome their hardships.
Later in the afternoon, some 45 minutes drive from Mae Ai, Rejoice together with the Mae Ai healthcare workers, Deang and Loy visited a married couple, who are patients, who live in a small village, Baan Huay Phu.
The married couple are both HIV +ve . The man is 57 years old and his wife 50 years old. They have had HIV for a long time (perhaps more than 15 years) and they could both work.
Now, the wife has become very ill and suffers from dementia and recently had a fall and broke her leg. The husband takes care of her by cooking before and after he goes to work. It is becoming more and more difficult for him since his wife often wanders off and she is not at home when he returns from work. The situation is growing worse and he finds it difficult to get help from neighbours in the village.
Visakha Bucha Day is an important milestone in the Buddhist calendar, to remember the Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.According to tradition, they all occurred miraculously on the same day and month. Buddhists worldwide gather together to worship and listen to sermons, or make merit at temples.Rituals on Visakha Bucha Day were first observed in Jambudavipa, or India, the motherland of Buddhism, long before Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka and Thailand.In Thailand, Visakha Bucha was first observed during the Sukhothai period (around 700 years ago), established through close religious links between Thailand and Sri Lanka.Sri Lankan monks traveled to Thailand to propagate Buddhism and were highly respected. Thai monks also went to study in Sri Lanka. It is understood that, those monks introduced this special day to Thailand on their return.Devout Buddhists will rise early to make merit at temples. In some temples, Buddhists will perform “Wien Tien” in the evening, circling the Bodh, or main sermon hall, carrying candles, incense and lotus flowers.Schools and government offices will also fly yellow Buddhist flags on the day.Because it is a holy day, shops, bars and restaurants are barred from selling alcohol for 24 hours.
Overnight in Fang, then, next day an early start and off to Chiang Dao to meet with HIV healthcare volunteers from Chiang Dao hospital for more home care visits before returning to Chiang Mai.
SWAY: Here is a link to a SWAY presentation of the same article: