20 May, 2010

surprising interest and knowledge

I was checking out an organization in Cambodia - http://www.watopot.org/- that helps HIV+ orphans and while looking at some photo’s of the children they have there, three of the CPH teenageish boys wandered into the ‘office’.  They immediately wanted to know about the children I was looking at.  I explained to them that most of the children are HIV positive and other children are there because their parents have died of AIDS.

I asked them if they knew about AIDS and they said yes, that they learned about it in a class at school called Civics, population (I think) and Health.  I was very impressed about the class but moreso about the boys desire to find out the AIDS statistics in Nepal.  After we had looked up where Cambodia was and the prevelance of HIV AIDS there, we then found a link to Nepal.  The last statistic shows Nepal as having 70,000 people living with HIV+ (no data was available for how many were children –which the boys really wanted to know).  They thought 70,000 was a lot until I showed them the data for countries in Africa (some in the millions) and the US (over a million).  Nepal is one of the better countries for infection rate. 

The boys then wanted to know what people have AIDS and we read about Sex Workers and drug use as being the main culprits.  The United Nations site we were on mentioned that the biggest spread of the disease into Nepal was the migrant workers going to India in search for work (obviously bringing more than money back home to their wives).  I found it interesting that while discussing the way it is spread (sex workers; men having sex with men; etc.) that there wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling as we (a woman and teen boys) discussed some intimate matters regarding the disease.

They wanted to know the statistic in their region, Dang.  We couldn’t find data on that, but we did find an article where there was an AIDS awareness in this district and read about that and then looked up the statistics in some of the towns in India that border Nepal.

We went back to the Cambodia site and looked at the children some more.  Their genuine concern for these children who did not have parents was evident.  They looked through all the photo’s and then at the newest arrival at Wat Opot a tiny HIV+ baby girl.  http://www.watopot.org/update-on-ann-marie/ They wanted to know if she was going to be alright, and I said, I think so, but you never know.  She was born with an incurable disease and is sick and her mother died already of the disease.  One of the boys said “oh, I think she looks good and will get better because there is medicine for her”.

A very memorable time here at CPH.

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