Migrant Stories of Hope: “They made fun of her and called her HIV Girl”

Aye Chan May is 17 years old. She is an orphan. Both her parents died with AIDS-related death when she was 3 years old. Her aunt looked after her but needed to go to another province for work. The aunt asked her neighbour to look after the child and promised that she would send money for support. They never heard from the aunt after she left Ranong.

The family had a difficulty to continue to look after and support her. Aye Chan May got sick and was infected with TB. She tested positive with HIV. The family was not able to look after her very well. She was not cared for and her health got worse.

Ma Aye, one of our patients, found her suffering and needing much care and the love of a mother. She felt concern and pity on her so she took her home and adopted her as her own child. She cared for her, supported her and raised her as part of her family. She sent her to study at Thai school.

It had been very difficult for Aye Chan May to be discriminated even by her classmates at school. They even made fun of her and called her ‘HIV girl’. The foster mother consoled her and encouraged her to be just strong and not to be discouraged.

Ma Aye approached the Marist Health Team at the hospital and introduced Aye Chan May to the team. The health team went for a regular visit, gave nutrition support and made follow-up for their medication and treatment. Aye Chan May got better and became more confident as she grew up.

They felt that they were emotionally supported by the Marist health team. They had been stigmatized and discriminated by neighbours. The foster mother became more involved with the Self-Help group organized by the Marist health team every month. Both of them seemed happy and stronger as a family.

However, another test came to their lives. Aye Chan May grew up as teenager. It was getting difficult for the foster mother to discipline her. Aye Chan May became more uncontrollable. It became a struggle in the family. Aye Chan May went away, left her foster mother and followed the aunt to another province to find some work.

The foster mother and the health team had lost her contact. Aye Chan May did not get on with the aunt and she went away with her boyfriend in another province. She could not come for her regular medical appointment. They were worried and concern about her well-being and safety.

After one year, she was able to contact one of our staff through social networking. She was able to connect with us secretly and able to ask for help. Sadly what had happened ws that she was locked up by the family of her boyfriend who made her a slave. She worked the whole day and night without pay, she could not go out from the workplace. She had been a victim of human trafficking.

The Marist health team was able to rescue her with the help of the Thai Immigration Police and Catholic Social Action. Aye Chan May came back safely to her foster mother. The foster mother received her with back with much gratefulness and joy. The lost adopted daughter had reconciled again with her foster mother who was waiting for her to come back.

Aye Chan May was lost but now found. She was able to gain back her health. She was reconciled again with her foster mother. She felt and realized that she is accepted and she is loved. She is now safe back in Myanmar.