REPORT ON A VISIT TO THE HIV/AIDS SUPPORT TEAM AT THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY IN JAKARTA FRANK & JOY O’CONNOR REPRESENTING THE PARISH OVERSEAS HUMANITARIAN SUPPORT GROUP.
“On 18th June we initially met Professor Irwanto (the Project Director) and his support staff (including volunteers) who provide care for the families of children living with HIV/AIDS in the city’s slums. Professor Irwanto and the carers wanted us to pass on their sincere thanks to the parishioners of OLMC for the generous donations that have helped provide nutrition and medication to the children.
With the Support Team we then visited four families with HIV/AIDS children, all of them living in the very poorest parts of Jakarta.
The first was a boy of about 6 years who not only was HIV-infected but also had serious eye problems so that he could barely see. He also had other obvious physical problems. His mother who had AIDS, sat on the concrete floor with the boy on her lap, in a single room about 3m x 3m which they occupied. This was located near the end of a series of narrow alley-ways off a crowded street full of cars, motorbikes, pushbikes and people. Despite her dire circumstances the young mother could smile and showed much affection to her seriously ill child. The three case workers enquired as to how the boy and mother were managing and to check that he was being given the ART (Antiretroviral) medication essential for those infected with HIV.
Early in the afternoon we visited a small HIV+ boy in a community hospital. He had been admitted a few weeks earlier with severe malnutrition and after a touch & go struggle for survival he was starting to improve. A young uncle was staying at the small hospital to help look after the boy who was very listless during our visit but we did manage to coax a “high-five “from him when leaving. The concern for this child was to ensure he received adequate nutrition after leaving the hospital and this is where Professor Irwanto’ s support team play their role.
Our next visit was to an extremely poor area to see a woman living in a tiny room with a 5 year old HIV+ daughter. Several of us sat on the floor but others could only stand at the doorway. The woman also had an older boy who was HIV negative but had intellectual problems. Her other daughter aged about 17 had the most beautiful little baby who was sleeping on the bare floor. The temperature was in the 30’s, humidity extremely high and ventilation virtually non –existent!
The last visit of the day was to another HIV+ young child living with mother or grandmother in a tiny, tiny room so much so that only two of our visiting group could squeeze in to sit with her on the floor and chat and check on the welfare of the child & family. Most people living in these tiny dwellings simply roll out a thin mattress on the floor to sleep on at night. From previous visits the Support Team understood this family actually slept in the space above the dwelling ceiling which obviously was sagging down severely but which the landlord refused to have repaired.”
The Parish will continue to support this critical humanitarian initiative and will keep you informed of how your generous donations are being used to directly support the children. We thank Frank and Joy for taking the time to meet with Professor Irwanto and his team during their stay in Indonesia, a visit they funded themselves.