A founding member and current advisor of our HIV/AIDS homecare and outreach teams, Khun Apiwat Gwangkaew was recently named President of the national Thai Network + (People Living with AIDS).
The Thai Network + is a nationwide organization comprising hundreds of local and regional groups advocating for the rights of PLWA. The Network creates national platforms, based on the voices of those living with AIDS, on issues ranging from national drug licensing and universal drug access to grassroots education and outreach. Apiwat first came to Mercy as a hospice patient and has a remarkable story to tell. In his own words:
"When I was a child, my parents could not take care of me. I was placed with a foster family. The foster family did love me but I missed the warmth that comes from my own family.
By Father Joe Maier, C.Ss.R.
Years ago now, maybe 11, his Granny died just after a terrible slum fire. That horrible night, teenager Gee carried Granny out of their shack and watched it burn.
They lost everything. Even Granny's antique betel nut chewing box. With no home, living "make-shift" on the street, Granny died only two days later. For roust-about young Gee, she was his only family.
He'd dropped out of school and grown up mostly alone in the slums and alleyways of Klong Toey. He spent some time with us here at the Mercy Centre, where he went to school for a while.
Once again from Bangkok, "after the present troubles"…
All is quiet. The curfew is slowly going away. I believe Saturday p.m. will be the final night. Today, Thursday, as I write this, curfew is from Midnight till Four a.m. The first night, five folks tried to torch different parts of our Klong Toey Slum, one by dropping burning material from the expressway above the slum. All were doused in minutes. Two of the arsonists were 14-year-old kids who had been given a handful of money to throw a petrol bottle bomb anywhere they could, to burn the slum, and if they succeeded, they would get more cash.