On Wednesday 8th, his second day in Cambodia, Prince Joachim visited Angkor hospital – a hospital that treats HIV infected children. Angkor is supported by CARE and treats 200 HIV infected children every day.
Prince Joachim also met two of the children treated at the hospital – Mao Kakada aged 13 and his brother Hue Kakada aged 11.
The brothers were born HIV-positive and had the disease because their parents were AIDS carriers. The two are now orphaned after their parents died from the disease.
Prince Joachim took his time to talk with the children, who in turn let the Prince know that if they took their medicine every day, they would be able to live a normal life for many years.
The brothers live with their grandmother and go to a normal school – Mao is even the smartest kid in the class, but keeps his terminal infection secret from his classmates.
“I want to live. Once I grow up and get myself an education I want to take of my grandmother. I am ashamed to be sick and I am afraid to talk about it in school – if the others find out, I will be exiled and discriminated against,” he told the Danish consort.
The children visit the hospital every second week and are only two out of 50,000 children who are treated every year at the 11-year-old hospital.
Made an impression
After seeing the children Prince Joachim confessed to a Journalist from Danish BT that he was deeply moved by the meeting.
“There are so many things that need to be processed in your head. It is the harsh reality and you have to sit down and try it let it settle. It isn’t something you do in one evening. It takes much more time to think it through,” the Prince said.
It also adds to the equation that Prince Joachim himself is a father to two children.
“That is the thing which puts things into perspective”, he said, and explained that he was to tell of his experiences to his own two boys, but he might leave things out.
“I will spare them from parts of it. Of course I will tell them that I have been here and visited a lot of children. I will tell them that the children haven’t got much, but they have each other and that they were happy.”
“And then, in due time, I will tell them how the reality looked,” Prince Joachim told.
King to change plans
A visit from the Danish royal family is always carefully planned and so far the Prince has not been diverted from his timetable – except on Thursday March 9 when the Cambodian King granted the Danish Prince and his delegation an audience.
Prince Joachim was welcomed at the royal halls by an honor guard who raised their sabres to the Prince. The audience itself lasted 15 minutes and among other things the work of CARE International was discussed.
General Secretary of CARE Denmark, Niels Tofte, chairman for CARE Denmark Gunhild Lange Skovgaard, Denmark’s Ambassador to Cambodia and Thailand Ulrik Helweg-Larsen, and DANIDA’s representative in Cambodia Mogens Laumand Christensen, were also present at the audience.
Praise for CARE
On Friday the 10th the Prince stopped by the CARE International office in the Cambodian capital Phnom Phen.
The Prince is patron for CARE and it is not the first time he has visited CARE-supported projects, but it is the first time he has visited projects in Cambodia. During his visit to the offices the Prince found time to praise the contribution CARE makes in the country.
The office employs 35 mostly local people and the Prince made sure to greet every single one personally.
“The employees at CARE help make a difference and a difference that makes life better for many people. I want you to know that you do a good and a much needed piece of work for your country men. Your work makes a beautiful country a lot better to live in,” Prince Joachim told the employees.
On to Vietnam
The Prince left Cambodia after meeting with the Cambodian press midday Sunday. After arriving and getting settled in Vietnam Sunday evening, the Prince had a full program to look forward to on Monday, when he was introduced to and visited the PACODE and CODE II programs.
The PACODE program is run by three Danish NGO’s – CARE Denmark, the Organisation for Renewable energy and the Danish Vietnamese Association. The programs contribute to improving living conditions of poor Khmer communities in the Mekong Delta.
The CODE program strives to improve the livelihood of poor households by organizing them into interest groups, supporting small-scale businesses and exploring marketing opportunities.
The Prince is also scheduled later this week to visit several Danida supported activities including a fishery programme that runs activities around Long Xuyen and a three-year-old agricultural pest and disease control program located in Phouc Dong.
During his days in Vietnam, Prince Joachim will visit Danish businesses operating in the country. One is GJ Teknik which has established a joint venture with a Vietnamese company (Viet Phu). The joint venture manufactures solar energy panels to be used in Vietnam.
A Vietnamese motorcycle
Later the visiting prince will mark the official inauguration of Goldsun-CBD’s new offices in Ho Chi Minh city.
Goldsun-CBD is a joint venture between Danish industrial design company CBD (Christian Bjørn Design) and the Vietnamese advertising company Goldsun. The two companies are introducing the concept of industrial design in Vietnam.
The company is still in its infancy but has already managed to design an entirely Vietnamese produced motorcycle. The company has recently expanded, which is why they have moved to new offices.
The Prince is also to witness history while visiting and is scheduled to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, which were dug during the Vietnam War (The American War – as it is called in Vietnam) and served as an underground base for guerrillas fighting against South Vietnamese and American forces. The tunnel system covers an amazing 250 kilometers and a small part of them have been made into a museum.
Prince Joachim is set to leave Vietnam late on March 18 and after a brief stay in Bangkok will return to Danish soil March 19.