Thursday, August 28, 2008

Chiang Dao

Part of my job with CAM is visiting HIV/AIDS patients at their home. We provide them with much needed emotional and spiritual support. Today we were accompanied by 2 members of the Uniting Church in Adelaide Australia. Michael and Anna. Both of them are pastors in their church. Our destination is Chiang Dao which is a 2hr drive north of Chiang Mai. We often pass vehicles like this loaded up to the sky. There are many times that the backs of trucks are filled with poor Thais and Hill Tribe people being shuttled to work sites. In Chiang Dao we will be visiting 2 families that have multiple members infected with HIV/AIDS. We also bring food and some clothing to help the families.

The trip up to Chiang Dao is a beautiful drive along the lush green mountains that follows the Ping River. It is hard to tell in this picture, but there are 2 farmers on the left side of the picture. They are working the fields located on the upper edge of the mountain.
When farangs arrive in the village the kids are sometimes shy. I tried to talk to this young girl, but she apparently felt embarrassed or maybe it was my poor Thai language abilities.
This is Sanan in the red shirt(my boss at CAM) and John and Anna conversing with some of the local villagers. Sanan has been here so many times that we have to stop several times to chat with the locals along the way to the families we intend to visit.
Some of the smaller Thais curious about the visitors to their village.

It was interesting listening to this family's story. The mother on the left has had HIV/AIDS for approximately 11 years and her daughter next to her is 11 years old and is also HIV+. The gentleman on the right of the picture is the uncle. The father passed away some years ago from HIV/AIDS. The mother is very sick and emaciated and will be going to the hospital soon to start a second line of ARV's. Unfortunately when patients start the second line of ARV's there is difficulty with compliance due to the fact that the medications often make you feel worse for the first few weeks to months.
I asked how old the family members were and was told they were not sure the mother thinks she is around 38, and the daughter was 11 or so per the mother. How could you not know how old you are? I've never met anyone that didn't know how old they were.
This is the interior of their bamboo hut, which is very sparse. How would you like to be sick as a dog and have to live in these conditions? Everytime I go on these home care visits I thank God for all the blessings that I have in my life. I can't imagine my life in some of these peoples shoes. I am also amazed at how gracious and generous they are too, despite the fact they have so little to give.
The gentleman on the right side of the picture is the local church leader and he often coordinates cares for the patients that CAM visits. For instance, he will make sure the mother in the previous picture gets to the hospital and he will also help translate for her since she is from the Lahu hill tribe and they speak a different language. Not to mention it is much more difficult for Hill tribe people to access the health care system here.
This cute little boy was startled by all the huge white visitors and clung to his HIV+ mother. I'm not sure how long she has been HIV+. Her 1st husband died from HIV/AIDS a couple years ago. Her second husband was not around and I'm not sure of his status.
This is the local church and also the place where we took a break for lunch. We were able to reflect on all that we had seen and we were amazed at the resilience of the Chiang Dao community. I will be going on home care visits every month and look forward to building relationships with the people we visit.

1 comment:

Peter Varvel said...

Such a bittersweet entry, both heartbreaking and beautiful to see in these families' faces, and that amazing blue sky above the church.
Thank you for the work you and Shelly are helping to accomplish.