Khoa, aged 20
When I was very small, my mother became very sick. My family took a train to Hue, where the doctors and nurses at the Hue National Hospital took very good care of my mother. Despite the good care she was receiving, my mother died a short time later.
When I was five, my father wanted me to begin kindergarten. At first, the school refused to let me attend because I had HIV, but my father worked hard to convince the community to allow me to go to school. I was thrilled at the opportunity to learn and play with my friends. But when it was time for me to begin primary school, I was refused again. I was heartbroken at the thought of not going to school. For the second time, my father talked with teachers and parents at the school in hopes they would allow me to attend. We had support from the Street Children’s Center in Da Nang, and they helped teach the community about my disease. Two days passed and finally I was allowed to go to primary school.
VNHIP and the Street Children’s Center again helped when I started secondary school and high school. They performed similar training that taught the community about my disease and how to keep everyone healthy and safe. Now, everyone in our village accepts me and they are happy for me to be friends with their children. People tell me I am brave because I have chosen to be open about my disease. My father has been especially supportive, and he tells me that I have nothing to be ashamed of.
In 2008, when I was in 6th grade, I became very sick. My father took me to the pediatric hospital in Quang Nam Province, but I was subsequently sent home after a few days to wait for the end of my life. It was precisely at this time that my father found VNHIP, and we went to Hoi An to be examined by a doctor. Dr. Josh examined me, and promptly arranged for me to go to the Pediatric 2 Hospital (P2H) in Saigon. Once again I found myself on a train, but this time I was the one who was sick.
When we arrived at P2H, I did not even have the strength to walk. My father carried me on his back into the emergency room. I stayed at the hospital for a month where they gave me a blood transfusion and fluids. Soon my health improved due to the excellent care I received.
I am very grateful to VNHIP to be alive today, and I also appreciate the support of the Street Children’s Center. I am healthy now, and I take monthly visits to Saigon for follow-ups and medication. I am in the third stage of treatment. I hope that in the future, a cure will be found for HIV/AIDS, and that the world will see a time when no one has this illness. I am in 11th grade, and doing well in school. I hope one day to become a doctor. Though I don’t know exactly what the future holds for me, I am confident and optimistic.