Siam-Care Foundation

Siam Care takes a biblical approach to strengthen marginalized and at risk children, families, and communities through psychosocial support, health access, educational scholarships, family reconciliation, legal rights and HIV awareness raising, advocacy, and spiritual transformation.
May 11, 2015

Why birds don't fly

Broken wings
Broken wings

A group of women, dressed in blue. Isolated from the outside world. And a little bird, free to fly out. Singer Anouk from The Netherlands once sang a strange song about birds. When I was in the prison for women, this song suddenly made sense.

As part of our activities, the women did a little performance. One of them carried a sign ‘HIV-infected’. Facing her with disgust, another woman took a step back and shivered. We all laughed about it. But in my heart, it made me cry. This time it was a performance, but outside prison it happens every day. Sometimes being yourself is wrong apparently.

Though the women seem happy when we visit them, their faces sometimes show something else. Some of the inmates are young, but look old and tired. Sometimes they smile, but seconds later they sadly stare at the sky. Their minds wander off, who knows what their futures will look like?

A small bird flew into the group and landed on the shoulder of a young woman. The woman told me proudly: “that’s our bird, we take care of it”. I watched how the bird flew to different women and made them smile for a while. It made me think of the song of Dutch singer Anouk. “Birds falling down the rooftops, out of the sky like raindrops. No air, no pride. That’s why birds don’t fly.” I never understood the lyrics, but now I do. When you have been a prisoner and you have HIV, you are considered amongst the lowest of Thai society. With no air and no pride, you are like a bird with one wing. Even your hope can turn into fear.

But hope is strong. And we come to prison to repair the other wing. We come to give back hope and dignity. We tell the women about their value, despite of their illness. We share God’s love and teach them self-confidence. And we hope that one day, when they are released from prison, they will spread out their wings and fly.

Mar 25, 2015

The face of improvement

She is waiting for us at the entrance of a sunny, light room. Her face shows a big smile when she sees her ‘family’ from Siam-Care again. Isra is a HIV-infected lady of 45 years old. She has been supported by Siam-Care for 25 years already. Yet this is the first time we visit them in a long time.

As usual in Thailand, we take off our shoes when we enter Isra’s house and find a place to sit on the floor. I cannot speak Thai, so I just observe my colleagues talk, sometimes they translate for me. I see how my colleagues do not stop laughting at Isra, because she keeps on making jokes, while she answers my colleagues’ questions. I see the proudness in Isra’s eyes when she shows pictures of her stepdaughter, who is about to graduate.

Proud and grief
I can also see the worries in her eyes when she tells about her son (11), who is very ambitious. So ambitious, that he sometimes forgets how their situation at home used to be. He even wants to be in an international school, where only wealthy students go to. I see how Isra is torn between proud and sadness, when she tells that her son is exactly like her. Always debating and asking questions.

Able to
Behind us are clothes racks full with laundry, in Isra’s one room apartment. Isra points at the many racks and tells about the improved circumstances of her family. “I earn a little income by doing laundry for other people. I can give my son eight times more pocket money than my daughter used to get when she was young. In the past my daughter had to walk to school, but now they can go by bus.” Isra and her family are doing a lot better than before.

What’s the point?
Why do I share this story with you? Isra and her family are not longer totally depending on Siam-Care. They are able to stand on their on feet and that’s exactly why we want to tell you this story. To show you what happends when Siam-Care starts taking care of a family. Together with Isra we found a way to make money and we counseled the family in multiple areas. Over the years, this family was enabled to be more and more independent. Because of your donations we were able to guide them and help them reach their goals. Other families are just at the start of this proces. Will you help us to help them as well?

Feb 9, 2015

HIV in prison: open secret

HIV in prison: an open secret

She cried: “Can you please call my old mom and tell her I miss her?” Over 2000 women are being kept in the Correctional Institution in Patum Thani Thailand, mainly because of drugs. A lot of them feel ashamed of being in prison and never told their families where they are. They just ‘disappeared’, leaving their families without a clue. This week we paid our first visit to this prison, where we will support HIV-infected woman.

“We started to work in the Correctional Institution this week”, tells Siam-Care’s staff members Ongard. “The prison staff had heard of Siam-Care from other prisons that we work in and wanted us to help them out. All inmates had to do a blood test for HIV/AIDS before we came, even if they did not want to. Some of the women just found out that they are infected a couple minuts before we visited them. The impact on their lives is huge and thankfully we could help them immediately. The women were scared and had a lot of questions: “Will I die? Can I still eat beef?” We gave information about health and living with their infection. Most of the women feel lonely in prison and felt cheered up after we visited them. Especially because we brought them donuts; they are not used to specials treats like that anymore. When you’re in a difficult position small things can give you hope, like aomeone who simply listens to your story or even a donut.

Fighting for the future
Coming months we’ll keep visiting the inmates. We usually start with some recreational games, to break the ice. In the meanwhile we will tell them how to use their medicines. The first time the infected women had to come to the hospital, other prisoners looked at them through the bars. Hence everyone in prison knows about their health status. That is why the women feel very exposed and vulnerable. They see themselves as sick and infectious and have a negative self image and low self esteem.. Due to your donations we are able to help them. You enable us to change the attitude of these women towards HIV/AIDS. We want the women to feel confident and show them that they still have a future. Because hope for the future, gives new energy to fight for it. And that can make a big difference in their lives.

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