Support 100 Thai prisoners and families with HIV

by Siam-Care Foundation
Support 100 Thai prisoners and families with HIV
Support 100 Thai prisoners and families with HIV
Support 100 Thai prisoners and families with HIV
Support 100 Thai prisoners and families with HIV
Support 100 Thai prisoners and families with HIV
Support 100 Thai prisoners and families with HIV
Support 100 Thai prisoners and families with HIV
Support 100 Thai prisoners and families with HIV

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.

Wise decision
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!

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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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Unfortunately, most prisons have closed their doors for outsiders currently. This is due to the high numbers of COVID-cases, of which many are in prisons. Many inmates get infected, as most prisons here are overcrowded, and practicing social distancing is hardly possible. 

For Siam-Care, this is a sad situation, as we want to go into prisons to train and counsel the inmates. After prisons started to open their doors again when the number of infections had gone down, it was quite frustrating to see all prisons close their doors again. There isn't much we can do currently, and that feels frustrating! We know that many inmates are struggling and we would love to help.

One thing that we can do and have been doing, is handing out face masks. Unfortunately, there aren't enough masks to protect the inmates from getting infected. We can't do much, but we hope that by providing masks, we can make somewhat of a difference. We have handed out thousands of masks and, with your support, will keep on doing so, as long as we deem this necessary. Thank you for helping us help the inmates!

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As you perhaps know, Siam-Care trains and counsels inmates in 10 different prisons. At least: we used to do this, before the COVID-crisis hit Thailand. Most prisons closed their doors for outsiders, and so we had to cancel many sessions. Slowly, some prisons are now reopening, but most are still closed. Which is quite frustrating!

Shopping malls are open, massage parlors, sport clubs. People can meet in large groups. But we are not allowed to enter into prison with 2 staff, to spend time with vulnerable people. This is frustrating, but we accept the situation as it is. Currently only 2 prisons (out of the 10 we work in) have reopened their doors for our staff to come in. Last year, many of our sessions were cancelled, but thankfully we could do some trainings. Hereby we'd like to share some numbers with you, so that you know how we use your donations.

Our prison program in numbers
In total Siam-Care conducted 27 training sessions in the different prisons in 2020, down from 62 in 2019. The reason behind this had been stated before: due to COVID, many prisons closed their doors to outsiders. Even as we write this (January 2021), many prisons are still closed. A much smaller group than in other years received assistance, training, and/or counselling. Before a sex education training, Siam-Care always does a post-test and afterwards an after-test, to see if the inmates gained a better understanding of sexual transmitted diseases. Our tests show that on average the inmates had 73 percent more knowledge about sexual transmitted diseases after being trained. Next to group trainings, we were also engaged on a personal level through one-on-one counselling, ensuring that every individual person is cared for.

Christmas celebrations.
Thankfully we could still carry out some of our Christmas celebrations, as December was a month with few Corona-infections and hence few restrictions. Just like every year, Siam-Care’s staff and some volunteers, sang Christmas carols and explained why Christmas is being celebrated. The event was much appreciated by both prison staff and the inmates. Also, we handed out gift boxes with basic supplies, in 3 different prisons. 

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A teenager who steals a car. A rapist. A murderer. Should someone love them? Should we treat treat them with dignity? In Thai society, this is often not the case. Siam-Care disagrees and weekly visits people who messed up. This is the story of Um, a father of two and sentenced for 17 years.

Um doesn't look like the typical criminal, is such a person excists at all. He has a friendly face, a tiny body and a warm and friendly voice. He didn't make it easy for himself in life. Before he moved to Thailand, he had was wanted in the country where he was born. He was suspected of drug trafficking and decided to move to Thailand. He changed his name and started a new live in Thailand. But unfortunately he came in touch with the police again.

Needs help and love
A friend of Um was in the possesion of drugs and at the very moment the police arrested him, Um was visiting his friend. Hence Um was arrested as well and got sentenced with 25 years. He says he is not guilty. We don't know who to believe, but for Siam-Care, it doesn't matter that much. We believe that especially people who messed up, need help and need to recieve love. We are a Christian foundation. Jesus inspired us to reach out to sick people, to people who messed up and need help. People like Um.

Difficult life in prison
Living in prison in Thailand is not easy. Due to overcrowding, none of the cells have beds, nor are prisoners given any mattresses. Just a thin sheet. If they have any money, they sometimes can buy extra bedding. Prisoners sleep head to foot with 60 others in a small room. There is an open toilet in the same room with a low wall around it. If someone want to go to the toilet during the night, they have to clamber over all the limbs. For this reason it is lucky the light is left on all night. However, the bright light makes it difficult to get any sleep. Long story short: prison life in Thailand is very difficult.

Love for the unloved
Siam-Care believes that people need to be treathed with respect. Eventhough they made a mistake (or many mistakes) they cannot loose their human rights. Um does not have any family in Thailand. His wife and two children (8 and 13 years old) moved back to their home country and cannot visit their husband and father. Nobody else visits him, so nobody buys him food, helps him contact his family or tells him what is going on in the outside world. But Siam-Care. We visit him every week and buy him some food. We listen to his stories and sometimes contact his family. It is not much, but it is something. A little bit of love that might keep him going. Thanks to the help of our donors, we can reach out to people like Um. Will you allow us to keep on sharing love with Um and many others? Your help is much appreciated.

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Organization Information

Siam-Care Foundation

Location: Bangkok - Thailand
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Jan-Peter Kelder
Manager of Communications
Bangkok, Thailand
$13,040 raised of $30,000 goal
204 donations
$16,960 to go
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