What do we do ?

Visiting and establishing books library for the children of HIV-infected Children Center

Wednesday, June 5, 2012

On June 2, BLV organized a volunteer trip to the Center of Education and Social Labor 2, Yen Bai, Ba Vi, Ha Noi. The primary purpose was to bring a little happiness to HIV-infected children who are suffering many difficulties, especially with school attendance. An important aim was to create a small library for these children.

Thorough preparation by all members of Better Life Vietnam took place one month before the trip. Great care was taken to create a program appropriate to the state of health of the children. Each gift or book we provided reflected the love of the volunteers.

                                                                                        Preparing books for the trip

                                                                                            Preparing gifts 

Preparation for the journey began at 6.30 am. Mist was in the air, and puddles from the night’s rain were still on the road. The Quang Trung Building was alive with the laughter of the young volunteers as they got ready to leave.
The journey began at 7.00 am. It was goodbye to the crowded, noisy city; goodbye to school and other worries. We happily moved off to our special destination.

At about 9.00 am, on a narrow road, we first caught sight of the Ba Vi Centre for HIV-infected children. Within about ten minutes, we had been introduced to the Centre’s Staff. They were friendly and whole-hearted in their efforts to support us. We divided into two groups: one for children under two years of age, and the other for children older than two.

The only way you can discover that the Centre not only provides fuel for life, but is a place to end anguish and begin happiness for HIV-infected children in an uncaring world, is to visit the Centre as we did. There, in this Centre, the children receive love and care from the Centre staff, who become surrogate mothers and fathers. This love helps the children combat the pain of their existence, and find a little happiness in their short lifetimes.
To return to our trip’s activities. After we collected all of the children, our MC Mr. Thang, said to them: “We have come here from far away. Do you want to play with us?”
The children’s response boomed back at us. “Yes! Yes!” they cried. 

Playing games

Receiving gifts 

There is probably no greater happiness for volunteers like us than to see “our children” so excited and full of energy. All of the games we designed focused on health for the children, and awareness that there is love and sympathy for them still left in the world. 
In my case, I felt like their mother. Is there any mother in the world who would not be filled with joy when her children, when playing, come to her and say, “We love you Mother.”Our pictures reveal some of the joy and excitement in the open air. In other places you can see some of the many smiles and much of the love. 
                                               Our volunteers spent time playing with the very young in the clinic. Here are some of their comments:
“They are really cute.”
“They seem almost too sick to be human.”
“One HIV-infected girl was abandoned in a cemetery by her mother. After a year at the Centre she is showing signs of recovery from the HIV disease.

Most of these children, suffering greatly as they do, will always need the love and the care of others. To be stricken with AIDS from birth gives them no choice. Often deserted and thus with no parent, and alienated by the community, they are doomed to suffer. We, the BLV volunteers, have heard the beating of their innocent, vulnerable hearts and felt some of their pain as they starve for love.

As the end of our stay approached, the whole team visited every child’s house to say “Hello” again, shared a little more time and took our pictures. Then we left.

The memories of this trip have not faded now that we are back in Hanoi. In fact, they will be forever in our hearts. The trip has been a lesson for all of us. We have learnt so much more about HIV and its effect on people, especially the young. This disease does not change people, only their lives. A deep desire to love and be loved still remains in all of them.

BLV volunteers have an important saying, among the several which guide them. It is Children Are Our Future. That future is also in the hands of the HIV-infected children we met on this journey to Ba Vi. They deserve the love and care which is the right of every human being. Their lives should be lengthened. They need the schools that other children have. Their lives should be free of a stigma they are not responsible for.
As President Clinton has suggested, we are afraid of what we do not understand. This visit has revealed to us the beauty and innocence of one group of HIV-infected children. We now know that it is time for calm, positive understanding of this dreadful disease. It is also time for real help to be given to these real children.