We weren't even supposed to visit this woman. But coincidentally we met her. Laila, a Thai woman, 37 years old. Captured in prison with a 25 year sentence. And HIV-infected. Unwilling to take her medication, which can save her life. Thankfully Siam-Care was able to change her mind.
It was a regular training day in the Klong Prem prison in Bangkok. Every 2 weeks Siam-Care visits the male's hospital ward of one of Thailand's most notorious prisons. Our staff counsels and trains HIV-infected men, with the purpose of giving them hope and keeping their spirits up while being in prison. This day 22 men joined our group session, which lasted from 10 until 11:30. It was a warm day, around 38 degrees, and there is no airconditioning in prison. You can probably imagine we all felt a languid.
Doesn't want to fight
As we were about to close our session, one of the prison nurses asks us to follow her. We walk to another building and the nurse introduces us to a Thai women, who is HIV-infected: Laila. She does not want to take her medication and tells us that she has no strenght to fight. She was arrested 11 months ago, she was selling drugs, and needs to stay in prison for another 24 years. With that prospect, Laila gave up and doesn't want to fight.
In a situation like this, there are a many things we cannot do and a few things we can do. Our staff decided to offer a shoulder to cry on first. We have listened to her story, which was valuable for Laila. Next to that, we have explained multiple times why it is important that she takes her medication. HIV-infected people can still have a pretty good life, as long as they take their medication on a daily basis. We explained this to Laila, but the first time we met her, she was still reluctant to take her medication. We met her again 2 weeks later and she shared good news with us: the conversation with our staff made her realize that she needs to take her medication again. We somehow gave her a little hope and she now wants to start fighting again.
Save her life
We cannot change lifes overnight. We cannot help Laila out of prison. Mostly we can change little details, which might have a big impact on the long term. We are thankful that Laila decided to take her medication again. She still had a long way to go. But this decision might literally save her life. Because of donors like you, Siam-Care was able to have this impact on Laila's life. Please consider giving again, so that we can continue our prison ministry. It is rather challenging to find donors for our prison program for some reason. Will you enable us to continue our work in prison? Thank you very much, on behalf of Laila and Siam-Care!