Huong Trieu is P.H.D student from the University of Michigan. She came for a brief visit to AOS in June and here are some of her thoughts.....
When I walked into the AOS orphan center, I was greeted with a room brightly decorated with children pictures and drawings. Three little girls with beaming faces stared at us shyly. When they saw their music teacher, they immediately surrounded her and brought out their music books. They rambled about their day and fought to show off their beautiful voices. In another room, I saw two little boys learning to read the hour and second hands on a clock. When they saw us, they made funny faces at us when the teacher was not looking. Over the course of the afternoon, I forgot that these were HIV+ kids because they were as rowdy and adorable as any other kid.
I later learned that these kids lacked caretakers because their family could not take care of them due to the stigma and hardship involved with taking care of HIV+ children. As a result of their disease, these kids could not attend public schools. Other families would not allow their children to play with these kids because they fear contamination. As a result, they were left at the center. All five children came to the center as malnourished and extremely introverted, but through the AOS's care, they slowly blossomed into normal children. I am extremely grateful to be part of these children's lives for a brief moment by visiting and playing with them. Through the center, I have witnessed the immense sadness and destruction that HIV has wrecked on children's lives and the difficulty involved in solving this problem. While no simple fix exists to this problem, I am thankful that organizations such as AOS exist to help these children.