July 16, 2009
Dear Friends and Benefactors of Mai Tam,
Please find below the semiannual report (2009) of the Mai Tam House of Hope Project.
The program we support continues to grow rapidly, outstripping the housing available. A new Center is near completion. The Mai Tam House of Hope is being recognized as a national model in Vietnam.This report is a little longer as we improve our reporting and statistics gathering. We have also included some websites we googled for Mai Tam. The comments by one Vietnamese American visitor are quite poignant and will illustrate how your donations have helped these innocent victims.
We would like to reiterate that our commitment to the Mai Tam House of Hope must be long-term, i.e. donations must continue over an initial five-year period. This is essential since the medicines and care cannot be stopped; to do so would mean depriving a child of the chance to live to adulthood. Therefore, we ask that you kindly renew your generous support for 2009. We have already sent the first three quarters’ donation for 2009; the next tranche is due in October. Perhaps your donation can be matched by your company. Please look into that possibility. All checks should be made out to IFFH (International Foundations for Health) for tax purposes.
We sincerely thank you and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Jill and Robert Morris
811 E Broadway
Boston, Ma, 02127 USA
Tel/Fax: 1 617 269 2415
Mobile : 1 617 308 1937
THE MAI TAM HOUSE OF HOPE PROJECT
HO CHI MINH CITY (SAIGON), VIETNAM
CARE AND SUPPORT FOR MOTHERS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN WITH HIV/AIDS
Semi-Annual Report July 2009
With this report we are well into our third year of support of the Mai Tam House of Hope Project.
The Mai Tam House of Hope continues to expand dramatically to fill the needs of theHo Chi Minh City
As noted in the past, our project is “organic”, growing to fit perceived needs and receiving financial support to fill those needs. John Toai, the director, has been aggressive in obtaining funds for the daily needs and long-term housing needs. He has made two visits this year to the U.S. for fund drives and may come again in October to for a fund raising auction of Vietnamese art. The Vietnam government in cooperation with international groups (e.g., The Clinton Initiative, The Gates Foundation, and USAID) has now acting to supply ARV medications at the local government clinics. Additional donors not related to our group (e.g. CARITAS Germany) have targeted funds for the new orphanage building and general support. In what might be called a minor “miracle”, through the wonder of the internet, our website (www.maitamhouseofhope.com) was opened by a Canadian who then realized that her niece was living in the Center. She had lost contact with the mother of the child, but later found out that she had died. After making some inquiries in Vietnam and realizing the good that was being done for her niece and others, she used her contacts in Canada to gain support for a major donation for the new Center (expected building cost U.S.$125,000). This donation, your donations, and matched donations by Goldman Sachs and Merck & Co, translates into a good first half 2008 in supporting these orphaned children and widows, and helping to build a new Center. In a twist on donations, one donor has decided to forego wedding gifts and has asked her guests to donate directly to the Mai Tam project. This is an innovative approach that we hope will generate some new funds.
As you know we write this letter also to remind you make your annual pledge/donation for 2009 if you have not yet done so; also, to encourage first time donors. We have asked you to sign on for five years since we consider that time frame to be the minimum to effect change, to keep these innocent victims alive, and to establish alternative funding for their futures. We seem to be well on our way to reaching these goals with your kind help. And, remember, we started our financial support when there were only five children in the Center. There are now 348 children and widows in the program.
We suggest you open these websites we found, one of which describes a young person’s
(‘Princess Towel’) dramatic feelings when she visited the Mai Tam House of Hope Center. Her comments are also posted below.
* The term "affected children" is used to indicate those children born of HIV/AIDS mothers and fathers. They have been ‘affected’ but not necessarily infected. Some infants are affected because they were born of positive mothers but their HIV status is still not confirmed; other children may be older and HIV negative but their parents died with AIDS, they have been deprived of certain rights because of their parents' HIV status, e.g. orphans, no education, homeless.
Comments of ‘Princess Towel’
After visiting Di Linh we headed to Nha Trang for a few days, then back toSaigon
to visit other facilities. We visited a total of four different care facilities: orphans, handicap, single mothers, and patients with HIV/AIDS. Out of all the facilities, Mai Am Mai Tam stood out like a sore thumb. Mai Am Mai Tam is a facility that provides medicines, food, shelter, and jobs for HIV positive mothers and orphans. We sat in a room and chatted for a while with Father Phuong Dinh Toai, the program manager. He was a very humble and educated priest. The stories he told us were heartbreaking. The majority of the patients who came into the facility were emotionally unstable.
One lady came in after a suicide attempt. She had found out she was HIV positive when her husband died of AIDS. Her parents abandoned her, society shunned her, and on top of all of that she was pregnant. She couldn’t handle it and chose to end her life, but the people at the facility found her in time and treated her. It is possible; HIV positive mothers can give birth to their child without transmitting the disease if they’re medicated. That was all the hope she needed; to know that it was possible for her baby to live without having HIV.
Not only was it hard for the pregnant mothers who were emotional distraught because they were lied to, betrayed, cheated, and/or abandoned, the children had it just as bad. Fr. Toai showed us around the facility and we stopped by to visit and play with the orphans. They were a lot different from the orphans we visited the day before. They were desperately searching for love, hungering for attention. They were brought into the world with in incurable disease and then abandoned when their parents died of AIDS. They didn’t have a choice. They were all too young to care for themselves and they couldn’t turn to anyone because no one wanted them. Everyone was afraid of these cute little kids. They were just little kids longing for love and tender care. There were about 30 kids in the multipurpose room- a room where they ate, played, and slept. Almost all of the kids were excited to see us.
All, but one.
We thought she was just shy seeing so many strangers, but when we heard her story we understood why. She was so adorable; she had nice big round eyes, chubby cheeks, long eyelashes. She was someone you would just want to pick up and squeeze like one of those cute Huggies kids. Despite the case, she still had to endure much pain as a young child. When she was 3-4 years old she had been abandoned 3 times. First, by her mother, then twice more by people who took her in because she was so adorable, but abandoned her quickly after they found out she was HIV positive. When she was brought to the facility she wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t play with the other kids, she just kept to herself most of the time. It was hard to bear just watching her. It was very evident that she knew what was going on.
I wish I knew more about Mai Am Mai Tam or Mai Tam House of Hope earlier because by the time we made it to the facility we had already depleted most of our funds, so I ended up emptying whatever was left in my bank account. I know I’ll be in major debt, but it was worth it, I just couldn’t turn my back. How can people turn their backs on these innocent kids? They have gone through so much already. When it was time to say “goodbye,” I hugged them and wept silently. I vowed to myself that I would be back soon and when I come back, I would bring much more then what I gave that day.
Sept 9 2008 4:39 PM - 86 Views - 8 eProps - 7 comments
A new HIV-positive arrival whose
mother died in labor.