Wednesday, 11 October 2017
"The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native is amonst you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:34
HOPE for AIDS* Thailand - Radical Grace uses a holistic, relational approach to offer support to people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. At the heart of Radical Grace is "the mission to bring hope to all of life."
We don't know hold old Fon is - and neither does she. She has no birth certificate, and for many years, no passport or any other official documents allowing her to exist or belong anywhere - no official identity. In the eyes of Thai society, she was just an orphaned girl who, over the year, suffered sexual abuse and became sick with HIV. What places is there for someone without an identity, and with no country, state or family to claim her?
When Fon first came in contact with SIM's Radical Grace ministry, she was dying. She was an undocumented worker, one of many in Thailand from countries like Myanamar, Cambodia and Laos, and didn't know how to get help.
Fon was fortunate that a government initiative to reduce HIV meant that she could access antiretroviral treatments (ARVs), even though she was undocumented. A Radical Grace staff member took Fon to hospital where they were able to buy insurance and access ARV medication. HIV prevalence amongst migrants in Thailand is up to four times the rate found amongst the general Thail population**. In light of this, a major public health goal for the country is to reduce transmission and prevalence of HIV and AIDS through ensuring people living with HIV are on ARVs.
Even if someone living with HIV gets access to medicine, it still takes discipline and care to ensure the medication is taken regulatly. ARV medication needs to be taken taily but is very effective at suppressing the HIV virus and improving the quality of life.
"Often people who come from backgrounds like Fon's emerge from form such a dysfunctional and abusive past that they don't have that se;lf-discipline:, said a Support Volunteer from Radical Frace. "And we see that she's chosen to trust people again, despite the abuse she's experienced in the past" she added, explaining that Fon is now happily remarried.
Fon's story is a miracle - an orphan with no family or country, once sick and dying - now registered as a migrant in Thailand, married, with friends and family, healthy and alive. Perhaps the greater miracle is that she has not let bitterness stain her life but has instead chosen a life of joy.
For those who, like Fon, once were without a family, country and identity - there is a God who loves and cares for the orphans, widows and foriegners.
"We can see that God cares about these migrants very much", a Radical Grace team member said. "And we can see the grace of God on them."
*HOPE for AIDS will transition their name to Hope for Life in 2018
Would you like to support SIM's HOPE for AIDS projects? Click here for more information.
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