Maew is a girl in our care-program, who we have known from her birth. She now is an 18-year-old orphan, who has cancer and HIV. This is a story of overcoming massive challenges and not giving up.
The mother of Maew entered into our program when she was pregnant, and referred to Siam-Care by the local hospital. She was HIV-infected, and had just lost her husband, due to his HIV-infection. Unfortunately, in that time, newborn children were not always tested for HIV, and only when Maew was 3 years old, the hospital discovered that she was infected as well. By that time, the virus had become very active in her body already, and she became deaf on one ear. Getting her to take medication from a younger age, could have prevented this.
Mother passes away
Just after they learned that Maew had HIV, her mother got very sick, and passed away. Maew was heartbroken and moved in to live with her grandparents. Unfortunately, the also passed away 2 years later, and Maew had to start living with her aunt. But aunt didn’t quite understand Maew’s health situation and the importance of taking ARV-medication. Siam-Care social workers tried to explain the situation, but aunt did not follow up and never took Maew to the hospital. Until the virus-load was so great, that Maew needed more medical attention. She moved to a shelter, specialized in taking care of children with health issues.
Maew moves back to aunt
We were sad to take Maew away from the only family she had left, especially as we focus on keeping families together. But Maew’s life was at risk, and she was only 10 years old. Siam-Care did regularly pick up aunt to see Maew, and sometimes Maew could spend a weekend away from the shelter, to be with her aunt. When she turned 12, her health had improved a lot and she had learned how to take her medication and look after herself well. She was allowed to move back to live with aunt, and started studying in high school. This all went well, until her fellow classmates discovered that Maew had HIV.
Siam-Care trains classmates
In Thailand there is still a huge stigma around HIV. Many people believe it’s bad karma making you sick, and they often consider infected people dirty and worth little. Classmates started avoiding Maew like the plague and also started bullying her. That’s when Siam-Care staff decided to step in. We went to her school to train both teachers and students (see photo). We explained that Maew was born with HIV and that she wouldn’t just pass on the virus by being near other people or even sharing a cup. The situation in school got better, but the people in her village still didn’t accept Maew. Aunt felt so stressed about this, that she decided it was time for Maew to go and live somewhere else.
Live at office
We offered Maew a room at our office, which was quite close to her school. Since Maew feels loved and accepted by Siam-Care staff, she agreed to move to live at our office. This also gave Maew the opportunity to ask more about the virus her body is carrying. We learned that Maew was quite worried about the future and manny questions. Maew was happy to live in a safe and loving environment. But unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse.
During one of the regular bloodtests, doctors noticed that there was something wrong with her blood. After s few more tests, they learned that Maew has cancer. This was in March 2022. We were all in shock of course, but Maew showed how resilient she is, and started fighting for her future. Siam-Care is helping to cover travel expenses to the hospital and also provide food and clothes for Maew. She had to undergo surgery and is currently still undergoing treatment.
Refuses to give up
We don’t know what the future may bring for Maew. All we know is that she is strong and refuses to give up. We give her all the support we possibly can, as we believe that she deserves to be loved. She had to overcome many challenges already, and more is to come. But we care about her and will not leave her alone. With your support, our help to people like Maew is made possible. Thank you for that, it is very valuable!