During one of our recent training sessions in prison, we met Plaa, a 29-year-old mother of 2 children. Mother has to stay in prison for another year and both her and her children are HIV-infected. Plaa did not see her children for 2 years already.
Only 3 months After Plaa’s second child was born, in 2016, she was arrested for selling drugs, which is considered a serious crime in Thailand, with high penalties. Plaa was lucky and “only” sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. Her husband was also arrested but hasn’t been sentenced yet. Plaa’s children are a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old son. They now stay with their grandmother, the mother of Plaa’s husband.
Worries about her children
After one of our monthly training sessions in prison, one of the prisoners, namely Plaa, came to talk to our staff and soon started crying. She told us that her mother in law doesn’t allow her children to visit her in prison. Furthermore, she shared that she worries for her children’s health, as they are both HIV-infected and she is not sure if her mother-in-law lets the children take medication. For HIV-infected people it is very important to take ARV-medication every day. Plaa begged us to visit her children as soon as possible to check if they were ok.
Challenge to find the right house
Siam-Care promised Plaa to visit her children as soon as possible. Which was quite a challenge, since we did not have any contact information of Plaa’s mother in law, but a vague description of Plaa where her children and mother-in-law live. A week later we decided to visit Plaa’s children and after driving around for a while in Pathum Thani, where the family lives, and asking many people, our staff finally found Plaa’s mother-in-law, who was not pleased to see us, to say the least.
Though that Plaa wasn’t alive anymore
It became clear right away that Plaa’s mother-in-law very much disliked her daughter-in-law. One of the first things she told us was: “I thought that Plaa died already, why do you come to visit me?”. She did not want to talk to our staff at first as she thought we were friends of Plaa. After explaining what Siam-Care is and does, she slowly calmed down and started to listen to us. She admitted that live is challenging for her; taking care of 2 grandchildren who are HIV-infected. She works hard to make an income and doesn’t want anyone else to know about the infection of her grandchildren, since the big stigma that infected people more often than not have to face.
Not enough money to visit doctor
Grandmother explained that she still lets her grandchildren take medication every day. Yet she shared that she doesn’t always have enough money to travel to the hospital to pick up the medication. We also learned that the grandchildren are often sick. The oldest child goes to school already but often cannot go because she is not feeling well. We gave grandmother some advice and promised her that we will keep on visiting her regularly in the future.
Community full of drug users
Plaa’s 2 children grow up in quite an unsafe environment. In their community, it seems as if many people either sell or use drugs. During the home visit, our staff was followed by multiple people, as they thought that we were undercover police officers. Mother Plaa will be released from prison in a year and will then hopefully start taking care of her children again. Siam-Care will keep on looking after this family and try to help them out physically, financially and spiritually. Thanks to your support, we can make a difference for families like these.