Visiting the Home of New Lives

Waking up in one world, having dinner in another. That was basically the situation for the 18 people from the Norwegian and Swedish Churches in Singapore. On Monday the 27th of November they left wealthy Singapore behind for a couple of days to visit the BaanChivitMai aid ministry in Chiang Rai in the North of Thailand.
BaanChivitMai is Thai for “Home of New Life” and the ministry offers a new life to the children living in the orphanage and the home for children suffering from AIDS.
“Coming directly from Singapore, it was incredible to see the children at the orphanage. Unlike us they do not have a lot of belongings, but they were smiling and taking care of each other like one big family,” assistant Port Chaplain at the Church of Sweden Singapore, Annika Gustafsson, says.
The reason why Swedes and Norwegians come all the way from Singapore to the North of Thailand to visit this particular orphanage is that the ministry is co-founded by Swede Eva Olofsson.
Eva Olofsson has worked with social projects in Thailand for 40 years and the bonds between BaanChivitMai and Sweden are strong. A lot of Swedish organisations and private persons donate money to the BaanChivitMai’s work. Annika Gustafsson noticed the Swedish influence on the first day, when she got a bit of a surprise.
“We were sitting round the campfire with the kids. They sang a Thai song for us and then it was our turn to sing a Swedish song for them. And some of them could actually sing along as they had picked up a bit of Swedish,” Annika Gustafsson laughs.
BaanChivitMai seeks to offer children a safe place to live and an opportunity to go to school so they do not end up in the hands of traffickers using the children as prostitutes or in drug trafficking.
“The children are the future of Thailand and it is so important that we keep them out of prostitution and drugs and make sure they get a nice and safe life. That is why the work of BaanChivitMai is so important,” the assistant port chaplain says.
According to Annika Gustafsson it is not only a question of giving a particular child a better life. It is also a question of avoiding problems in generations to come.
“If a girl becomes a prostitute, she may get AIDS. When she returns to her village she will probably get married. Then her husband can get the disease and their children will get the disease as well and then it is problem for more than one generation,” she explains.
Annika Gustafsson explains that a lot of the 23 children at the home for AIDS infected children are orphans as their parents have died from AIDS. One of the future projects for the BaanChivitMai is to make a school for the AIDS infected children.
“Because of their damaged immune defence they pick up infections very easily. By having their own school they are not as exposed to infections and that make it easier for them to get an education,” the Swede explains.
BaanChivitMai is also planning to do a preparatory IT-education to give teenagers an opportunity to receive education at a new level, so contributions are needed.
“A little help can do a lot of good and I think that it is only natural to help if you have a chance to do so,” Annika Gustafsson says.

For more information about BaanChivitMai, go to http://www.baanchivitmai.com/

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