There are thousands of children in Vietnam who were born with HIV and are left orphaned as their parents die from AIDS. From the beginning of their lives, and through no fault of their own, they are left in a very difficult position. Being an orphan is hard enough by any measure. Being an orphan infected with HIV presents many additional challenges, including:
- The stigma of living with a disease often associated with drug abuse and certain sexual behaviors.
- Difficult and expensive medical treatments when access to basic nutrition is difficult.
- Uncertainty of life ahead, the feeling of “living in the dark.”
- Rejection, discrimination and isolation from others.
- Ongoing sicknesses associated with the disease.
- Difficult to develop self worth and self-esteem.
- Inaccessibility of higher education or employment.
- Hopelessness for a normal life.
Many of the orphaned children are lucky enough to find a caretaker, who is most often a relative. In most cases these caretakers are taking on another person to raise, support and feed, when they do not have the resources to even take care of themselves or the family they already have.
There are becoming many resources available to these children for support and medication to help keep them from dying. However, they typically lack the resources to help them to live. Staying alive is one thing. Living a happy, whole and productive life is a huge challenge and the focus of this initiative.