Aids charity spreads message of hope
Many people diagnosed with HIV/Aids give up hope, but a charity is giving them the support and education they need to turn things around
What saddens Esther Choi Siu-fong the most is when HIV and Aids patients lose the will to live. But the Society for Aids Care programme director has also met others who strive to cope with their disease, which brings Choi immense joy.
She has helped some of her patients give birth to HIV-free babies through their Mother-to-Children Transmission Prevention Programme, for example.
The society, set up in 1994, takes care of seriously ill patients through home visits or activities at its Mong Kok day centre. It provides valuable rehabilitation and counselling services.
As a beneficiary of Operation Santa Claus, it will use the donations to hire one more social worker for its service team - comprising three nurses, one physiotherapist and three social workers - who are often stretched thin caring for 480 patients.
The funds will also sponsor a Christmas party for the patients.
The Mong Kok centre is a venue where patients can gather and derive strength from one another through sharing their ordeals. There is a gym, and there are courses offered including beauty treatment, cooking and how to write a résumé. The most important role of the programme, Choi says, is to stem the spread of HIV and Aids by emphasising safe sex and consistent treatment. "We tell them that they can recover if they take their medicine properly," she said.
One patient who has regained optimism is David, 60. When he was diagnosed in August last year, his wife and two adult children shunned him. He lived alone and began feeling suicidal.
Then David began visiting the centre five times a week, and he was glad of the support. "I can talk about things that I've kept bottled up for so long," he said.
How You Can Give
Donate online by credit card at osc.scmp.com
Donate at an ATM or at any HSBC branch (account no: 502-676299-001 for SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus)
You can donate with a cheque payable to "SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus" and mail it to: Operation Santa Claus, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories
- Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. If you would like a tax receipt, please send the completed donation form and original bank receipt, with your name, address and phone number, to the above address. Please call 2680 8159 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any inquiries, or visit us online at osc.scmp.com