Field trip to Wat Phra Bat Nam Phu and orphanage

Yesterday we went on another field trip with school. It was a very strong and kind of surreal experience. I’m not quite sure how to write about it, what to say and how to say it so you could feel how I felt… We went to a temple called Wat Phra Bat Nam Phu that’s about 2,5 hours north of Rangsit. It’s a temple where people with HIV and AIDS can go to get help.

In Thailand everyone that’s HIV positive get the antiretroviral drugs for free from the government, and they have access to hospital care when needed, but the knowledge about HIV and AIDS is still limited amongst the population. A person with HIV often gets discriminated against (even if it’s illegal to ask if anyone is HIV positive) and it’s not uncommon for them to be kicked out by their families. That’s where the temple comes in. Since it’s difficult for some people to support themselves they can come and stay at the temple.

Through the years 10 000 people have died there. It’s their ashes in the white bags. We walked through the room where the sickest patients stayed. I’m not sure why, it all went so quickly so I didn’t even have time to think about whether I wanted to or not. Walking between the beds, in a room with maybe 30 sick people, were so surreal. It felt like some sick tourist attraction; come look at the sick people…. They were 30 people in the same room, beds close together… People with AIDS are so sensitive to infections, and there they were… Just… I can’t even describe it… It was terrible, but at the same time it was their best alternative…

After lunched we drove half an hour away, to an orphanage for children that had lost their parents to HIV and AIDS. Some of them looked so small, but the youngest was 6 years old. They were so cute and had prepared a show for us with hoopla hooping and dancing. We then played some games together and asked each other questions. They were so curious about our blond hair and what kind of animals that live in Sweden.

It wasn’t until we got there that I really realized why they were there. Not only had they lost their parents, but they had all gotten HIV from their mothers (they were old enough that stopping transmission between mother-child hadn’t been effective), so even if they had relatives, no one would take in a child with HIV. It broke my heart. I still can’t put any better words on what I’m feeling. Of course I knew there were children with HIV, and I knew there were orphanages, but I just… Yeah, I’m heartbroken. How could no one want to take them in? Children on antiretroviral drugs can live normal lives. If the society let them. I can’t help to wonder what awaits them. Will they be able to find work? To provide for themselves? Have a family?

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