My name is Fluk and I am 22 years old. I live in Bangkok and just finished university. But this story starts 22 years before today. Back then no one expected me to finish university. They didn't thought I would be able to go to school at all. I was living with my old grandmother who was too old and sick to take care of me. But then Siam-Care showed up and my life changed drastically.
July 1992, MukdahanI was born in the northeast Thailand, not to far from Mukdahan, a medium-sized city, in the province Isaan. Isaan is considered one of the most poor areas in Thailand. Most people are farmers and grow rice or sugarcanes. Just like my parents. They were both Hiv-positive, already before I was born. I was my parent's first child and also the last one. My mother would have loved to have more children but her physical situation didn't allow her.
May 1995, MukdahanAfter my birth my mother's body got weaker and weaker. When I was only 3 years old, she died. I was to young to understand what was going on. I don't really remember what my mother looked like, to be honest. Thankfully I still have some pictures of me and my mother. After my mother died, my father took me to Bangkok, because there he would have a better chance to find a job. He ended up working as a construction worker, for about 12 hours a day. He made around 250 baht a day (8 USD).November 1997, BangkokThe health situation of my father was not improving. Despite the fact that he used medication to suppress his HIV infection, he became weaker. In the end of 1997 he died in Bangkok. I was only 5 years old but already an orphan. I moved back to Mukdahan to live with my grandmother. She was almost 80 and too old to work. Hence I wasn't able to go to school, because how would we ever be able to pay for the uniform and travel costs, to name just a few expences.January 1998, MukdahanOne of our neighbours brought us in conact with Siam-Care, a NGO that was working with Hiv-infected people. I'm not infected myself but that didn't matter for Siam-Care. After they heard my story Siam-Care found someone in Europe who wanted to support me. I was able to go to school and that made me so happy. I still remember the first day I went to school. I was so proud to wear my uniform. There was someone I didn't know who though I was precious enough to support. That made me feel so special.May 2014, BangkokAfter finishing primary and high school I moved to Bangkok again to study at university. My grandmother doesn't live anymore, but because of Siam-Care's support I was able to study. I payed for my own food because I had a parttime job in a Thai restaurant. Now that I've finished my study to become a teacher, I can start working after the summer holiday. I am so proud that I can take care of myself now. Ofcource I miss my parents but atleast I know that my future is wide open. I can work, take care of myself and start a family one day. Thankfully my children won't need the support of Siam-Care, but I am so thankfull that Siam-Care was there for me!
Fuke didn't allow us to use her real name and picture.
We arrive in an area with narrow streets and park our car on the sideway. It is a small walk from here. When we get there I see an old lady sitting in the doorway. Today we visit one of the families Siam-Care supports. To bring food, but especially to bring companionship.
Directly we are invited to sit on the small ‘veranda’. I am listening to Neng (64) even though I do not get any of the Thai words she is speaking. Her head is covered with wrinkles. Pi Leng, one of my colleagues, knows this lady very well,and helps us to understand by translating. She is the grandmother of the 14 year old Lin. Her parents passed away because of HIV, that is why Neng, the grandmother, takes care of her.
AshamedWe ask Lin what she wants to become in the future. She tells us that it is hard to think about the future. The only thing she can come up with is working in a supermarket, so that she has money to buy nice things. She also tells us that she does not want to go to school during the week. She wants to go to a weekend school, so that she can work during the week. Lin looks very uncertain, as teenagers sometimes do. Some of her friends know that she is HIV positive, and that is one of the reasons she does not like to go school. She is ashamed.
Being helped is not always niceWhen we ask grandmother Neng about the things that make her happy, she starts crying. She is very thankful for the food and medicines we give her, because she is suffering from diabetes. She is thankful for the shoulder to cry on and that we listen to her story. But at times she is very sad about the fact that she still needs the help. She desperately wants to take care of herself. In the end that is what Siam-Care aims at as well; to provide Neng with those skills and those materials that she will be able to help herself. Unfortunately sometimes the way to becoming self-reliant is long and tough.
According to Andy Williams December is 'the most wonderful time of the year’. He’s probably right. Families come together , people cook delicious food and everyone is happy. Although, everyone? Not if you have no money for a special dinner. Not if you are an orphan and celebrate Christmas without your parents. Especially for those people Siam-Care organized a special Christmas celebration. This is a story about a Christian feast in a Buddhist country.
As a Christian NGO , we support the less fortunate not just financially. Moral and spiritual support are just as important. If you are sick , money is not always the problem. Often the stigma that hangs around HIV is a bigger issue than just a lack of money. People often feel alone and ashamed of their infection. Take Moon for example. Her parents deceased when she was young and Moon herself is also infected with the HIV virus. For her Christmas is not a good time. It is a time of being confronted with the fact that she’s an orphan and suffering from a pretty bad disease.
Providing food and share a message of hopeAlong with 40 other children and families we invited Moon for a special Christmas celebration. Thanks to around 1000 euro’s in donations (among this were gifts that came in through globalgiving.com) we were able to throw a special Christmas celebration. We were able to provide Moon and the other attendees with a special box of Christmas presents, plus some food supplies as rice and candies. We shared the Christmas message of hope and love with the people present. The message that there is a loving God who cares about every individual and who sees our problems.
Moon felt very blessedMoon issued after the Christmas celebration that she felt blessed. Not in financial or physical sense. But blessed because she could celebrate Christmas together with children who are in the same situation. Moon felt blessed because she knew that there is someone who is looking out for her. Someone who loves her and wants to help her. She was also very happy with the relatively 'simple' gifts. Simple for another , but special for her. With only 1000 euro Siam-Care gave hope for the new year to 40 children and families. Because of this celebration Christmas was still a very wonderful time for these people. A huge thanks to you for your contribution. Unfortunately, your help is still needed in order to keep providing hope.
Densely built homes along the Lad Prao 80 river, tons of garbage floating in and out. Conditions are dreadful and disturbing in the area. So many families live here, all affected by poverty, each of them carrying their own story about life in the slums.
Making ends meet
Siam Care is on its regular visits, meeting the sisters Bell & Bam. They are both sponsored, making it possible for them to go to school and to work on a better future. Together with their grandmother and younger twin brothers they live in a small wooden house, which is not more than a little hut at the waterfront. The floor of the “hallway” we walked on, is made of loose wooden planks, hold together by a few nails. It is amazing how welcoming they are, offering us a fresh bottle of water, while they can hardly make ends meet. Bell & Bam’s grandmother does different things to earn money; one of them is selling grilled pork on the streets of Bangkok. The money she earns is just enough for the family to live on.
Receiving guidance in difficult times
Bell & Bam’s father left the family long ago and their mother lives in the south of Thailand together with her new boyfriend. It’s heartbreaking that the sisters have to grow up without the presence and love of their parents. Especially since they are in their puberty, they need proper care and guidance that help them to make the right choices and decisions in life. Siam Care listens to their concerns and provides them the psychological help they need.
A better future for Bell & Bam
Because grandmother works all day, Bell has been the one taking care of her little twin brothers. Because of this she had a hard time to manage her schoolwork and the chores at home. Now that the twins are old enough, she can focus more on her education and enjoy some free time for herself. Bell is 17 years old and will start vocational school this coming year. She has chosen to learn about computers, because this is what attract her the most. She still doesn’t know what kind of job she wants to have later, but she says she will be thrilled when she will receive her diploma. Her 13 years old younger sister Bam, knows exactly what she wants to become after she finishes her education. She says: “I want to be a kind and gentle teacher, like the teachers at my school” Bam is doing very well at school and it is very clear that she enjoys her classes.
Although both sisters have different ambitions, they have one thing in common; a strong personality and the will to move on! With your donations we can guide them in their journey and make it possible for them to reach their goals. Every child deserves a chance to be happy, don’t you agree?
Just imagine: you are a 34 year old single mother with an 11-year-old daughter living in a basic shelter next to your parent's house. You have psoriasis, a persistent skin-problem, which is so bad that your whole skin is being eaten away by the disease. It actually makes you so weak that you cannot walk, indeed: moving around at all is hardly possibly.
Not open to help from othersThis is the story of Ying. She is one of the people that Siam-Care is looking after. And that is pretty amazing in itself, as a year ago Ying and especially her parents, were absolutely not open to receive help from others, to put it mildly. They had this strong believe that Ying's skin-problems were caused by evil spirits. To get rid of them, they thought, Ying just had to wait for a good spirit to heal her body, while receiving treatment from the local medicine man. At one stage Ying was so weak that all she could do was lay on the floor for two months, without the tiniest bit of movement. It is little miracle that at that time she didn’t pass away.
Renewed energy for YingAfter a while Ying's neighbors became so worried about her physical condition, that they contacted the local hospital. The hospital then contacted Siam Care and asked us to visit. After seeing Ying's condition we transported Ying to the hospital where she finally received correct treatment. Since then we have added Ying to our support program and Siam-Care workers now visit her regularly at home, with amazing results. As we have time with Ying and her family we have the opportunity to provide medication, encourage her and talk about all sorts of issues the family is struggling with. It obviously helped Ying; she now is able to walk small distances again. Her skin still gives her a hard time, but due to the medicine she applies daily Ying regained her strength and has renewed energy to look after her daughter.
Your donations help Ying and daughter TikYing and Tik live in a small village,15 kilometers away from the main provincial city. Ying has no job and has to survive on 500 baht ($ 16) monthly government subsidy, which she receives as disability support. Her parents grow rice on the small fields they own, they can grow enough for their family's rice supply but not enough to sell and cover all the household expenses i.e. food, toiletries school fees for Tik, medicine and transportation for Ying. Because of your donations Siam-Care is able to support Ying and her daughter improve their quality of life.
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