Three Men and a Truck
The photo shows the Outreach Team with their new (2012) pick-up truck by means of which they visit the rural communities and families affected by the HIV in Chiang Mai province.
Rejoice is quickly becoming known as the, "Three Men and a Truck" charity amongst people and their families living with HIV in the Province.
Gee (centre), is the team leader and has worked with Rejoice for the past 22 years receiving on-the-job training from Rejoices founder, the late Steve Hallam. Now, Gee uses this knowledge and the patients' trust, which he has accumulated over the years, to benefit the needy poor in the remote, rural areas of the province.
Arm (left in photo) contracted the HIV at birth from his mother. Arm, as a young boy, benefited from Rejoice's regular visits to his family home in Mae Rim. Some 16 years ago, Arm asked Steve if he could help Rejoice. He has been helping Rejoice ever since.
Wi (right) is an ethnic Tai Yai who fled the civil war in Shan State, with his family some 19 years ago. Wi previously worked part-time for Rejoice but now works full-time. Able to read and write the Shan language is a great advantage in building trust with the many migrants in the rural areas.
Here is a link to a photo album,"Three Men and a Truck" showing Gee, Arm and Wi at work.
HIV Hospital Health Care Workers
In our July 2012 newsletter we included an article entitled "Angels of the North" which paid tribute to volunteers, themselves infected with the HIV virus, who assist the doctors and nurses at various rural hospitals. These volunteers provide invaluable empathetic support, advising and counselling newly diagnosed HIV patients. Moreover, since they meet patients on a regular basis they can advise Rejoice of any serious concerns they may have with the well-being of families and especially families with children.
Since then, the Rejoice team has joined forces with the health care workers from four hospitals, Chiang Dao, Mae Ai, Wiang Haeng and more recently Chai Prakan. Together, Rejoice and the HIV Health Care workers can make visits to the more remote communities, previously only possible rare occasions.
For example, the Chiang Dao catchment area comprises over 3,000 families from three main ethnic groups: Chin Haw, Lahu and Tai Yai. The Lahu people are at a particular disadvantage because of their lack of Thai language and very basic education. The majority work on small agricultural farms growing crops such as rice, corn, green vegetables, garlic, etc.
There are several families who take HIV anti-retroviral (ARV) medicine. A major problem they face, apart from the language, is the journey to the district hospital, where they must go regularly every two or three months to receive their check-up and receive their anti-retroviral (ARV) medicine. The journey is often made by motor cycle and the entire trip can takes full day. The patients not only have the difficulty of negotiating the poor roads, especially in the rainy season, but they also lose a day's wages. The villagers say "it is good that the medicine is free BUT we can't afford to go and get it'.
In cooperation with the rural hospitals, Rejoice hosts "education and prevention" programmes at hospitals and schools, each programme being designed specifically for the target group.
Also, Rejoice and the Health Care volunteers are being invited to participate in "Training Workshops" hosted by a various government backed HIV groups.