A day with HIV-positive children

All children at the Tan Binh Charity House (Ho Chi Minh City) have had bad luck since their births. They were infected with HIV from their parents and most of them were abandoned, then later adopted by the House staff when many orphanages in the region found them in the maternity hospitals.

*A harsh childhood

Nguyen Thanh Nhi’s young mind is still imprinted with a terrible image of her parents committing suicide after transmitting HIV to their daughter. Though Nhi’s parents have died, Nhi’s life was preserved. Nhi lived a lonely life with her grandmother in the country because no o­ne would make friends with an HIV-positive girl. Finally, her grandmother sent her to Tan Binh House with the hope that Nhi could be cured. Another child,Hoang Lan was nearly aborted before her birth because of her disappointed mother, who luckily changed her mind.Now, Hoang Lan is a resident of the house, where her mother occasionally visits her.


Many of children in the House are the product of teenage parents who are drug addicts or prostitutes. A staff member said that the children’s parents rarely visit. Some of them are seriously ill, some of them are in prisons, and others want to take their children back but are not able to provide the proper conditions for raising their child.


In cradles of newly born children lie o­ne-month-olds who have just beensent to the House. They are so poor and weak as a result of their mother abandoning them in fear and regret. Most of the poor children are malnourished and they grow up slowly without their own mother’s care.


*… and their dreams


There are several new cuddly toys o­n every bed in the house. Hanh Dung, a girl living in the House, said that the children were very happy with their Christmas Day gifts. It is a big dream for the children to be able to interact with the community. At present, 6 7-year-old children, attend the 1st grade at Tan Dinh primary school. Every week, teachers from the school come to the House to teach them according to the same syllabus that other children follow. At the end of each academic year, the excellent students are recognized.


Physically, HIV-positive children are very weak. Most of them are easily affected by fever, flu, cough, and typhoid as well as D and V. Several children are hospitalized every month. Most of the children came to the House in a state of physical and spiritual weakness, and the staff has had to nourish them with a mother’s love. Most of the 25 staff members have been affiliated with the House for a long time, so they love and take care of the children naturally. Ms Minh Sen, o­ne staff member, said: “Sometimes I feel scared when living with HIV everyday, but that feeling disappears as soon as I see the children.”


Bidding farewell to the House in the afternoon, I wandered the streets and wished that the poor children would have peaceful dreams, in which they were playing children’s games beside their parents, just as healthy children do.



“Women of Vietnam” Review