Mari Seto is an In-The-Field Representative for GlobalGiving. She is visiting projects throughout China. Here is her most recent "postcard" from Fuyang, China:
When we first stepped into the office of AIDS Orphans Salvation Association (AOS) in Fuyang, a city in Anhui Province, we were greeted by a group of excited children shouting, running, and playing happily among themselves. This is a place where HIV-infected children, children with family members that are infected with HIV can safely play without being exposed to the stigma towards HIV patients in China. For a while, we watched children playing games, drawing, and taking dance lessons taught by the local volunteers.
In the AOS office, we met Kristin and Ally who are representatives from PATS Foundation. PATS Foundation and their local partner AOS are working together to give extensive care to the children that are infected by HIV. While the medication to contain the effect of HIV is provided free of charge from the government, the children and their families lack mental and physical support. PATS and AOS send Community Health Workers to check up on the change of HIV infected children's physical and mental conditions, as well as talking to the doctors on behalf of the family.
Next day, Charlene and I accompanied the community health workers and PATS team visiting four HIV infected children in the Lixin village, located two hours outside of Fuyang. We watched the health workers check the pill bottles to see if the children have been taking the medicine properly. Health workers also weighed and measured the children's heights to see if they have been growing healthily. Kristin, who has been visiting Fuyang over many years, told us that the conditions of the children got much better since PATS and AOS started sending health workers. At the same time, it became apparent during the visit that the many of the kids were malnourished - PATS and AOS team decided they will buy additional multivitamins for the children.
Though improving, the stigma towards HIV patients is strong in China- many patients keep their sickness secret so that they would not be abandoned by their community or even their family members. Charlene and I were very impressed how the PATS and AOS team are determined to provide extensive care for the children, despite the stigma.
Dear PATS Supporters,
I recently returned from a field visit to our operations in Henan and Fuyang in May. PATS’s work is progressing smoothly, and I observed visible improvements in the children’s health and well-being.
Xinxing, a 9 year old boy in Henan, has gotten much healthier since he switched to 2nd line drugs this year. He sang a popular song “Xuexi Lei Feng” and read aloud from a book we bought for him when we visited. Xueqiang, a 10-year-old boy in Fuyang, is probably most improved of all. Xueqiang had poor adherence due to a fluctuating home situation when I visited last year, but he has had nearly perfect adherence during all of PATS’s home visits this year, and his family plans to send him to school in the fall after a long hiatus.
But my most memorable experience was visiting longtime PATS senior advisor Wang Liyao at his home in Hangzhou. Mr. Wang is a 72-year-old retired professor originally from Anhui, and he has been with PATS and our local partner AOS since the very beginning in 2003. He was diagnosed with metastatic cancer of the pancreas in March of this year, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
During my visit on May 15 he spent quite a bit of time relating to me his vision for improving our measurement of drug adherence, showing that PATS is on his mind despite his illness and treatment. A few words from Mr. Wang to the PATS community:
“Fortune is not unfair to me. It bestowed misfortune on me, but meanwhile, it gives me so much happiness and joy. Thank you, to the PATS community, for all of your heartfelt wishes, warm letters, and emails. Your words moisten my heart just like the rain and dew, enlighten my life just like sunshine.”
If you would like to donate in honor of Mr. Wang and send him a personal message of support, please choose “Make this donation in honor of someone” to the right of this report, and email your message to me at email@example.com so I can forward it to Mr. Wang.
Jialan Wang PATS Board Member
Video messages from Mr. Wang, that I recorded on May 15: English: https://vimeo.com/43052942 Chinese: https://vimeo.com/43013597
You can read more about Mr. Wang, PATS's unsung hero, in our last newsletter: http://patskids.org/sites/default/files/April%202012.pdf
And see him in action on video from our site visit last year: http://vimeo.com/album/1750034