This time no story, but a overview of what we have done in 2022. Also, we would like to share a bit more about the purpose of our programme. We hope you enjoy reading about our work and would like to thank you for making our help to people in need possible!
purpose of the programme
Prevention is better than cure. Siam-Care reaches out to HIV-infected people in the Thai society, but much rather we would like to see people protect themselves enough so that the HIV-virus would not spread any further and would come to an end. Study shows that each year 6400 Thai people get infected with the HIV-virus. The HIV prevalence in 2021 was 1.1%, which is one of the highest in Asia and the Pacific (as we write this, numbers of 2022 are not known yet). Thailand is responsible for 9 % of the region’s total population of people living with HIV. Due to joined efforts of Siam-Care and others, the epidemic is now in decline, but the prevalence remains high, especially among men having sex with man and people between 16 and 25 years old. Thailand hopes to end AIDS by 2030, which acquires a lot of awareness. Siam-Care helps educate the public on HIV-related issues such as sex education and HIV-prevention, but also on issues such as child protection and human trafficking. Our knowledge and experience in these areas is officially recognized by the Thai government.
what we did in 2022
2020 and 2021 were very challenging for Siam-Care. Due to the pandemic, most venues were closed, including schools, prisons and government building. Hence, we had to cancel most of our trainings, or in some cases: train groups online. While online training is better than no training at all, it is not ideal. We are thankful that the lockdown is over and in 2022, we were allowed to come and train and raise awareness amongst our targets groups in real life again. In both Mukdahan, Nakhom Phanom and Phang Nga our teams conducted sex education training in several schools. Our main focus is on teenagers, as their age-group sees the biggest rise in HIV-infections. By increasing awareness and spreading knowledge, we are hoping to protect these young people against the risks of (unprotected) sex. The number of teenage-pregnancies in Thailand is high too, and thus we include this in our trainings as well. We also trained university students to teach sex education: a train the trainer principle. They, on their turn, train people in their communities, so knowledge spreads even faster.
As times are changing, we are now including internet in our trainings as well. A big part of the lifes of young people takes place online, and thus we need to help them to protect themselves online as well. Topics that we touch upon during our trainings, are cyberbullying, online gambling, how to deal with strangers who contact you through social media, amongst other themes. Next to training students, we have also provided training for government officials in Mukdahan.
result of the programme
The programs were met with general positivity. In total, over 700 people (inmates, students, teachers, child protection workers, government officials, etc.) received training by Siam-Care in areas such a safe sex, child protection and human trafficking. Pre- and Post- training assessments show that participants gained much knowledge and have a much better understanding of the subject they have been trained in.
We are happy and proud to share that our work is growing. We have recently expanded to a new province: Nakhom Phanom. It’s one of the poorest provinces of Thailand and it’s neighboring Mukdahan, where we have an office already. HIV is still causing many issues and many families are struggling hard to survive. Help is much needed.
During the thesis of 3 Siam-Care students in 2021, we learned about the dire situation in Nakhom Phanom: there are high numbers of HIV-infected people, and there is no one helping. The local government lacks the knowledge, and there are no NGO’s to offer training, educational support and family care. In March of this year (2022) we organized several meetings with local hospitals, the ministry of Social Development and Human Security, and the university of Nakhom Phanom. We all quickly agreed that help is needed and that Siam-Care would step in to offer knowledge and support.
What will Siam-Care do to help?
1. Offer family support
Just like in other provinces where we work, we will enable families to stand on their own feet. We will train them in such a way, that they can look after themselves and become self-reliable. First, we ensure that families have all basic needs, such as food, as house, and clothes. Then, we offer job-trainings, budget-training, offer mental and spiritual support, make people aware of their rights (what government support are they eligible for?), and more.
2. Offer educational support
We help children to finish their education. With a finished study, it is much easier to find job. And to look after oneself. Our goal in this is to help families escape the wheel of poverty. Sometimes it includes ensuring someone is accepted into a school, which is sometimes hard. Schools are often afraid of HIV-infected people and refuse the students. Which is mainly a lack of knowledge. After training by Siam-Care staff, students are usually allowed to come and study. We also counsel the children in their studies and ensure they keep on going to school.
3. Share HIV-knowledge and raise awareness
We want to virus to stop from spreading. And that requires training. We offer sex-education in schools, churches and local communities. We also counsel HIV-infected people and ensure they keep on taking their medication.
As you may be aware, most of the prisons have been closed-off for outsiders during the COVID-crisis. In 2 years, we only conducted a handful of trainings, of which most online. But now things are changing: prisons are slowly opening up their doors again.
It seems like prisons are last in line to reopen. Malls have never been closed, national parks opened a year ago, schools are running like normal again. But we still aren't allowed to conduct training and counseling in prisons. But now that the pandemic seems to have ended, we are slowly receiving invitations from prison staff again.
Hopefully we can give you more specific updates in the months to come. We can't wait to reach out to the inmates again! Thank you for your ongoing support!
We weren't even supposed to visit this woman. But coincidentally we met her. Laila, a Thai woman, 37 years old. Captured in prison with a 25 year sentence. And HIV-infected. Unwilling to take her medication, which can save her life. Thankfully Siam-Care was able to change her mind.
It was a regular training day in the Klong Prem prison in Bangkok. Every 2 weeks Siam-Care visits the male's hospital ward of one of Thailand's most notorious prisons. Our staff counsels and trains HIV-infected men, with the purpose of giving them hope and keeping their spirits up while being in prison. This day 22 men joined our group session, which lasted from 10 until 11:30. It was a warm day, around 38 degrees, and there is no airconditioning in prison. You can probably imagine we all felt a languid.
Doesn't want to fight
As we were about to close our session, one of the prison nurses asks us to follow her. We walk to another building and the nurse introduces us to a Thai women, who is HIV-infected: Laila. She does not want to take her medication and tells us that she has no strenght to fight. She was arrested 11 months ago, she was selling drugs, and needs to stay in prison for another 24 years. With that prospect, Laila gave up and doesn't want to fight.
In a situation like this, there are a many things we cannot do and a few things we can do. Our staff decided to offer a shoulder to cry on first. We have listened to her story, which was valuable for Laila. Next to that, we have explained multiple times why it is important that she takes her medication. HIV-infected people can still have a pretty good life, as long as they take their medication on a daily basis. We explained this to Laila, but the first time we met her, she was still reluctant to take her medication. We met her again 2 weeks later and she shared good news with us: the conversation with our staff made her realize that she needs to take her medication again. We somehow gave her a little hope and she now wants to start fighting again.
Save her life
We cannot change lifes overnight. We cannot help Laila out of prison. Mostly we can change little details, which might have a big impact on the long term. We are thankful that Laila decided to take her medication again. She still had a long way to go. But this decision might literally save her life. Because of donors like you, Siam-Care was able to have this impact on Laila's life. Please consider giving again, so that we can continue our prison ministry. It is rather challenging to find donors for our prison program for some reason. Will you enable us to continue our work in prison? Thank you very much, on behalf of Laila and Siam-Care!
In Thailand, places such as shopping malls and sport venues have all reopened for people to visit. Prison doors, unfortunately, are still closed. The number of Covid-infections in prisons is still relatively high, and thus no one is allowed to visit. But our staff is just waiting around, but finds creative ways to reach out the inmates...
Internet is a blessing in these days. Our staff is now training the juvenile inmates through zoom-sessions. It is not ideal, we would much rather visit and encourage them in person, but it is better than doing nothing. We currently organize online sessions for youth in 4 different prisons. Not all prison-staff allows us yet to train their inmates, or they don't always have the technical facilities to allow us to train inmates.
Other than online training, we still are still handing out face masks. Unfortunately, many inmates still get infected, as most prisons here are overcrowded, and practicing social distancing is hardly possible. We can't do much at the moment, which is frustrating, but handing out facemasks is one thing we can do.
Thank you for making this possible with your support. These inmates are the forgotten ones of the Thai society and need love and help. You make it possible for us to reach out to them. Hopefully we can do this in person again, as soon as possible!
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