Supporting orphanages for HIV-AIDS kids

About the project . . . .

Starting point
The Thu Kha Yeit Myone orphanage - Happy Heaven

In an impoverished 3rd world context, like Myanmar, orphaned children acquiring HIV from their birth mothers, abandoned at birth, if they don't die, will be rescued by progressive physicians and immediately started on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and local resources will be mobilized to look for an available bed in a specialized Aids orphanage. Placement is difficult, as there are few such orphanages due to disease stigma and resources. The unlucky children are left to die with impoverished relatives at best. During better times, several of these orphanages were funded by international NGO's, which have now severed links with Myanmar and by prosperous Myanmar citizens, who can now barely afford to feed their families. Two of the HIV-AIDS orphanages we now support, were concept orphanages started with the help of the international community, or progressives within the country, but became suddenly unfunded to a great extent due to internal conflict and economic deterioration in the country. We're trying to take over the major responsibility for these kids and still make occasional contributions to other orphanages throughout the country, that we have supported in the past. Our kids in the two segregated HIV orphanages we fund, live in 'secret' islands in the middle of a troubled world, with loving caregivers, good meals and stimulating internal social activities. Both of the orphanages we support are able to send their children to nearby public schools for the day, socializing with other children, for a basic education. The children are carefully monitored and treated for general health matters and receive free ART medications from government hospitals. The Thu Kha Yeit Myone orphanage in North Dagon, Myanmar, known as Happy Heaven Humanitarian Project, was founded by a group of progressive women physicians in Yangon (and a famous actress). It began its mission in 2007 with only 13 children and has expanded, with our help to currently serve 102 children.

Who would have known, when Dr. Robert Paul of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health began his collaboration with Dr. Soe Mar (our medical director) of Washington University, in St Louis, that Dr. Paul's NIH funded grant exploring cognitive and neuro immunological impact of parinatal HIV and tropical comorbidities in young children, that this would blossom into a lifelong commitment for Dr. Mar and her family to support several hundred HIV afflicted orphans in Yangon, Myanmar, some of whom volunteered as subjects in the study. With the Myanmar economy now in freefall, and more than 200% inflation, Dr. Mar's family foundation is increasing its support for the nutritional, educational and housing needs of over 300 children in the HIV orphanages studied by Dr. Paul's team. Fortunately, the government ministry of health and/or pharmaceutical corporate donations, are able to supply the expensive HIV medications which keep these kids alive. The foundation is also contributing to the support of the local team of young physicians who served as co-investigators with US team on the research project, and can no longer meet expenses to feed their families and provide necessities, due to the impact of rocketing inflation.

The Nuture Aids Center -NAC

A larger facility, but also in Dagon Township, is the Nurture Aids Center. NAC is focused on HIV AIDS care, in its orphanage housing, feeding and educating about 100 children, but they also care for 66 HIV AIDS adults still living in the dormitories, aging out, with no other place to go. The orphanage became unpopular with the current government because their facility is located in a building originally financed by an opposing political organization. Contributions were discouraged by murky beliefs that supporting these kids was somehow a show of support for the opposing party. We had to step in and now keep increasing our support. The children are once again having protein with their rice and things are easier with the staff. Although the Nurture Center is totally non political with no ties to any political party, they still have to deal with a stigma that is unfounded. Press for important article online publication Radio Free Asia

Nurture Aids Center Photo Gallery

Happy Heaven Photo Gallery

It started as a medical research project and then we fell in love

Happy Heaven Orphanage has an absolute policy of allowing no photographs of their children, protecting their privacy. Nurture Aids Center accomplished privacy protection in their photos by profile and back shots

Happy Heaven Orphanage has an absolute policy of allowing no photographs of their children, protecting their privacy. Nurture Aids Center has accomplished privacy protection in their photos by profile shots