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.
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