There is an estimated 440,000 people living with HIV in Thailand. Of those, an estimated 4,100 are under 14 years of age (UNAIDS 2015). Chiang Rai, one of the provinces worst hit by the AIDS pandemic, had no home for HIV positive babies. Project L.I.F.E. stepped in to meet death with life and hope – and Home of the Open Heart began in 1999.
It's purpose is multifaceted: To give HIV positive babies who cannot be cared for by relatives, a loving safe home. To offer self-contained cottages for HIV+ mums to live independently with their baby/young children. To offer hospice or respite care to women and children in their final stages of life. To visit families affected by HIV/AIDS in the community and offer income generation opportunities.
Each HIV+ child and woman, is cared for by the staff at Home of the Open Heart for as long as they live. It's a commitment from the heart, one that brings lots of tears, lots of sleepless nights nursing them back to health, and lots of joy. Oh, to see the babies who came in dying who are now laughing, playing, going to school, just being ordinary children. That's what L.I.F.E. is about.
Real L.I.F.E. story:
Lek* is alive. And that is a miracle.
Her mother Waan* was working as a prostitute in Pattaya. Knowing she was HIV+ and saying ‘no time for a baby’, she seriously considered having an abortion, until Tamar Center’s staff (part of Project L.I.F.E.) showed her another answer. That answer? Home of the Open Heart, Project L.I.F.E.’s home for HIV+ moms, babies and children. Waan arrived on their doorstep skinny, undernourished, covered in sores and suffering respiratory problems. Adjustment wasn’t easy, going from the bright lights, fancy clothes and non-stop pace of Pattaya to the quiet, prayed-in peace of Home of the Open Heart. But Waan slowly relaxed, slowly began to accept the love and care of the staff, the other women, and the children there. The day after Christmas, little Lek was born. Thanks to the medication Home of the Open Heart had given Waan, she was born healthy. After the birth, Waan chose to take baby Lek and go back to live with her parents in northeastern Thailand, and Home of the Open Heart was delighted to be a part of re-uniting the family.
We like ‘happy endings’, but unfortunately, Waan stayed just a short time with her family. Despite their pleas, she returned to Pattaya to continue prostitution. The good news though, is that she left Lek with her family. They love her and will care for her. They know she is a miracle of life. That’s Lek. That’s what L.I.F.E. is all about.
* Not real name
- Sponsor a child - $40 month, learn how: www.homeoftheopenheart.org/sponsor-a-child/
- Support Thai staff - $40/month, learn how... Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Other ways to help - www.homeoftheopenheart.org/ways-to-help/
- A live-in nurse for our hospice
- Serve in the area of "helps" for our hospice
- Anyone with experience and training in medical or community development, counseling or art/play therapy with children or primary health care
- Maintenance person
- Child carers
- Fundraising/public relations co-ordinator
- Community workers
- Administration staff
Contact Home of the Open Heart
Home of the Open Heart
P.O. Box 121
Chiang Rai 57100