Caring for kids living with HIV and disabilities

Friday, 05 August 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 31 By  Lewis Underwood

Friday, August 5th, the Canadian Jackalope Open holds their 13th annual fund-raising event at Khao Kheow Golf and Country Club for the benefit of the Camillian kids living with HIV and other disabilities.

The Jesters Care for Kids Charity Drive’s involvement with the Camillian Social Center strengthened 4 years ago when we joined forces with the organizers of the Canadian Jackalope Open. Their stipulation was that all funds raised from their annual charity golf tournament would go to the kids at the Camillian’s Child Care Center in Rayong.

The strategy behind this arrangement was that working together, we would have a bigger impact on helping the kids there. And over the last 3 years, we have collectively provided 2,169,052 baht to the Camillians.

In 2008, when we asked Father Giovanni where our donation would be best utilized, he suggested we cover the 24/7 care-giving, medicine (ARV’s) and food for two children living with HIV and disabilities.

The two children in focus were a girl, Fey, and a boy, Tewid, and the following are their respective stories.

Tewid now has an ever-ready smile, recognizes care-givers and is able to sit up on his own by using his arms. Tewid now has an ever-ready smile, recognizes care-givers and is able to sit up on his own by using his arms.

Fey was 4 years old when she came to the Center. She was born HIV-positive and abandoned by her parents after birth in a Nong Khai hospital. She is blind and mentally impaired, most likely from the HIV infection.

When she first came to the Center, she could not stand or crawl and would get upset frequently, slapping herself in the head. With the continued administration of ARV’s, physical therapy and loving care, her tantrums subsided, and she was able to stand and walk with assistance. By the time we saw her she was 5 years old and her life and demeanor had improved substantially.

Today, she is 8 years old, and able to walk on her own.  After a bout with chronic tonsillitis last month, she has responded well to a drug treatment and is doing much better today.

Tewid, who is 15 years old, was also born HIV-positive and due to late administration of ARV’s had become partially paralyzed, almost comatose, from the infection. He was thought to be autistic too.

Tewid enjoys listening to music, watching TV and spending time with other resident children.  His mother, who is deaf from her own HIV infection, also comes to visit and care for him regularly at the Center.

These days Tewid’s demeanor has improved tremendously. He now has an ever-ready smile, recognizes care-givers and is able to sit up on his own by using his arms.

In late 2008, both of these children were transferred to the Camillian Home in Lat Krabang just before Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is where disabled children who have their HIV status stabilized take up residence. Here there are professionally trained specialists who better help the kids learn to live with their disabilities.

Wayne Ogonoski (center, right) from the Jackalope Open, along with members of the Jesters Care for Kids charity visit the children and care givers at the Lat Krabang facility. Wayne Ogonoski (center, right) from the Jackalope Open, along with members of the Jesters Care for Kids charity visit the children and care givers at the Lat Krabang facility.

Faisal Malik is coordinator on site and is assisted by Kannika Tumma, who is in charge of PR and their outreach program. The latter entails home visits to the disabled in the community.

Presently there are 19 resident children, 14 of those are orphaned and 12 are HIV positive. There are also 20 regular day visitors, who come for basic education and physical therapy. Most of the kids in question are affected by physical disabilities, cerebral palsy, blindness, and/or afflicted by learning impairment, autism or Down syndrome.

There are 34 dedicated staff members at the center, who together work 8-hour shifts around the clock, every day of the year.

If you would like to learn more about these kids, please visit their website at www.camillianhomelatkrabang.org. If you would like to help kids like Fey and Tewid, you can also visit our website at www.care4kids.info and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/care4kids.

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