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Saturday, February 4, 2012
The recent floods in Thailand have made it more difficult for the HIV+ orphans at the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation.
The floods have dramatically decreased the number of donations and reduced the focus on the plight of the large group of orphans aged between 1 month and 16 years of age.
Anti-retro viral drugs, food, educational supplies, clothing are among some of the vital needs for this community of children.
We urge all visitors and readers to step forward and make a donation on line on this site (http://www.charitytrek2012.blogspot.in/ ).
It is easy, it is secure, it is multi-currency and many types of credit cards are accepted.... ABOVE ALL IT CAN MAKE A GREAT DIFFERENCE TO THE LIVES OF THE CHILDREN AT THE ORPHANAGE. Please assist. Visit Charity Trek 2012 now and make a donation.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
During our recent visit to the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation (aka Home Hug) we were informed by one of Khun Suthasinee's assistants at the orphanage that she had been recently awarded a very prominent recognition at the Asian of the Year 2011 nominations by Readers Digest. Not only this is a tremendous homage and recognition to her tremendous work and strength but also, we believe, a further endorsement proving the relevance of her work and the work of her associates in support of the HIV+ orphans in Yasothon.
The following is a copy of the recent article appeared in the Asia edition of Readers Digest (December 2011):
Even with a fatal cancer eating away at her little by little, this strong-willed woman will not give up on saving the lives of hundreds of HIV/AIDS orphans
Suthasinee Noi-in is better known by her nickname Mae Tiew (Mother Tiew) among the AIDS/HIV orphans living in Home Hug Orphanage. Though she established it in 1987, it took her more than ten years to turn what was once a makeshift shelter into a properly run orphanage in Yasothon province, in northeastern Thailand.
Suthasinee’s devotion to her cause came under the national limelight in 2007 when her story was turned into a TV commercial for a life insurance company. The popular ad showed her dedicating herself to maintaining and supporting these children despite suffering from cancer herself. But “fragile” is not a word you would use to describe this smiling, average-sized 54-year-old woman who seems to glow even without any make-up. If she were fragile, hundreds of children might not be alive today.
Her desire to help others started over 25 years ago at university when she joined a volunteer camp to help poor farmers in the province. However, her inspiration went further back to her imperfect childhood. “Coming from a broken family, I grew up as a love-deficient child. But my parents taught me an important lesson—we should set a good example for the children instead of just repetitively telling them what to do. My father was my role model for making other people happy and my mother was a role model for sharing love with others,” she says.
Suthasinee is the second of three daughters. She spent her childhood in Rajburana district in Bangkok. Her father was a civil servant who was often away from home, while her mother was a homemaker. Today Suthasinee is taking care of her mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease; her father died some years ago.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bangkok Technical College, Suthasinee decided to take a teaching job in the northernmost province of Mae Hong Son where her students were ethnic mountain people. Then she moved to Child Village in the westernmost province of Kanchanaburi. After that, she switched to work for a non-government organization that aimed to improve the quality of life of slum dwellers in the Khlongtoey District of Bangkok. During the course of working in the slum area, Suthasinee started to notice the great suffering of many poor HIV/AIDS-afflicted children who became orphans after one or both parents succumbed to the disease. This was especially prevalent among the migrant workers from the northeastern part of Thailand. She decided to tackle the problem at the root cause by choosing to work in Yasothon province—among the poorest areas in the country—since that was where she attended camp during her university years.
“After living in Yasothon for a while, I realized that the problem of AIDS/HIV orphans was much more complicated than what I had initially thought. I felt compelled to do something to help them by enabling them to live a happy life with their close relatives and neighbours. The best strategy is to strengthen the family bond and promote social acceptance. It is essential to prevent the problems, because we will never be able to solve them all,” says Suthasinee.
At present, Home Hug Orphanage accommodates around 87 children between the ages of three and the late teens. There were over 100 children last year but several succumbed to complications due to HIV/AIDS while others have completed their education. In addition to those living in the orphanage, Suthasinee also takes care of some children who still live with their parents at home.
Home Hug Orphanage always welcomes volunteers to help care for the children, especially during weekends and school breaks, since supervising close to 100 children from different backgrounds is no easy task. However, Suthasinee warns that any potential volunteer should not expect to encounter quiet and passive children. The atmosphere at the orphanage is, in her own words, like “a world war.”
“During school time, the world war starts from 5 to 7am. The children wake each other up to get ready for school. In addition to breakfast, they have to take their pills regularly. The older children help out with household chores, watering vegetables and taking care of the younger kids. After the children leave for school, the world war subsides for a few hours. It restarts at around 4pm and continues till 8pm. On Saturdays and Sundays, the world war goes on nonstop from 5am to 8pm,” Suthasinee says, laughing with noticeable delight.
This iron lady been suffering from intestinal cancer for several years and goes for treatment from time to time. Although she is fighting hard with the disease, Suthasinee’s desire to help the children never falters.
“When I feel exhausted, I tell them that I am going to take a rest. When I regain strength, I will tend to your requests again. When I lie down, my head becomes a toy for them. That makes the world war subside for a while. Some of them rub my head while others scratch my hands and feet. Sure enough, a lot of them will use that moment to tell me that their friends are bullying them. However, all the stories are soon forgotten and they go back to sharing some fun games again,” Suthasinee says.
Soaring expenses is the biggest problem for Home Hug Orphanage, especially the cost of medicine, which can go up to as much as $25,800 per month. When there is an outbreak of a communicable disease, like influenza, this could exceed $32,000. To maintain the orphanage, Suthasinee has sold all of her property including the house she inherited from her parents. This decision initially infuriated her sisters, but after seeing her dedication and strong will, they have reconciled.
“Sometimes we are late for the hospital bills. I ask them to send us an invoice and promise to make the payment later. The thing is there are sometimes no donors at all, especially when the country is facing an economic slump, social divisiveness and natural disasters including floods. We understand the whole situation, but wish to urge the public not to overlook the importance ofHIV/AIDS problems, especially the growing number of orphans,” says Suthasinee.
At Home Hug, independence is a key virtue. To solve the problem of insufficient food donations, Suthasinee promotes the growing of vegetables for self-consumption. She also encourages the children to search for vegetables or fish—anything edible—in their neighbourhood. On a good day, the children may see some egg soup with fish sauce on the table. Unfortunately, some days, they end up eating rice with just tamarind paste.
Many visitors to Home Hug end up being very surprised. The majority of donors, who are from Bangkok, presume that the visit will be depressing, but these people usually leave with tears of joy.
“We never encourage the children to promote their suffering as an attention-seeking strategy. We want them to be independent and live with self-esteem and dignity. None of my children look sorrowful or desperate. Because of that, many people think that Home Hug no longer needs any assistance,” says Suthasinee.
Mother Tiew always promotes education to her children to help them survive and to contribute to society in the future. She has fought tooth and nail to get her kids to sit in the same class with regular children. She also has to teach her children to be patient when they are looked upon with disdain by the parents of the other kids. Even some teachers have put pressure on them hoping that they’d leave the school.
“Education is a priceless inheritance. We can give them nothing but education. If they have a chance to attend a school and later obtain a diploma, these children will be able to stand on their own feet. They will never end up in prostitution or cause any other social problems. They will probably contribute greatly to society,” says Suthasinee.
As if she doesn’t have enough on her plate, Suthasinee is also enrolled for a master’s and doctorate degree in social development. Her simple reason is she would like to set a good example for her kids. “The main message is that although I am old and sick, I have to go to school,” says Suthasinee.
The first few years of managing Home Hug gave her another important lesson—death is a natural truth. After doctors confirmed that some of her children were in the final stage of the disease, Suthasinee decided to bring them back to the orphanage. She sometimes let them sleep in her arms at night. She told them stories, talked and sang to them. After some terminally ill children confessed that their last wish was to see the sea for the first time before they died, she brought them to a seaside city.
“Some of the kids did get better and went on to live for more than ten years. Today they still go to school and help me take care of the younger children. Of course, many others don’t make it and I have to let them go. In the past, some older children would have to dig a grave and help each other to make a coffin. Finally, we had to bury them with our own hands, because undertakers refused to do the job for fear of the disease. A fact is never concealed from the children. I tell them everything, even about suffering and death. All the children of Home Hug know very well that one or two of their friends may not wake up tomorrow. They never ask questions,” says Suthasinee, her voice cracking.
After composing herself, she continues tersely: “While we are alive, we should love others as much as we can. Don’t wait until they are gone and then weep for nothing. Death is the conclusive chapter of the love you mutually share with someone. Tears cannot bring the dead back to life.
So please give them love and access to medicine. Most of all, give them happiness.”
Suthasinee says that bringing up children is not difficult, but helping them grow up to be good citizens is. Family members and society in general should give them a chance to learn to be independent. When Home Hug children come to her with desperation, Suthasinee’s final advice to them is: “As soon as you give up and want to die, you start to count down to your last breath.”
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
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It may not change your fortunes but I guarantee it will make you feel a whole lot better once you have done it ! THANK YOU