Report from Mirabell Niklas, Year 12 IB student
On Saturday 13th May, ten Year 12 IB CAS students visited the Camillian Centre in Rayong. For all of us it was our first visit to this inspirational place which accommodates approximately 50 residents, mostly children, but also some adults, all afflicted with the HIV virus. On our arrival we learned from Mr Baird’s power-point presentation about the work of the Centre, which not only includes the care and education of the children, but also the educational outreach work done by the Centre in the local community. The Camillian Centre goes to workplaces and offices to educate people about HIV which will help people to understand that they can be around these patients without getting infected. Coming across such strong individuals like these children with the diagnosis of HIV made me want to help them in any way possible.
The Camillian Centre not only provides beds, shelter and food for the residents but also helps them to recover from their weak immune system. Fortunately, the development of anti-retroviral drugs has decreased the number of people actually dying from the disease but the virus still remains a danger unless people are aware of the precautions that need to be taken. The work of the Centre means that the children are given a chance to re-enter society, including buildings nearby such as the nearby Eden Project Community and the Independent Living Centre which prepares teenagers for the challenges of adult life.
What I was most excited about was actually meeting the children and I wish there had been more time to get to know them even better since they were so cheerful and full of joy, despite their difficult circumstances. We were given a guided tour around the Centre and seeing some of the older patients in the palliative care ward was truly heart-breaking. After a delicious lunch we all joined in and washed the dishes. The children learn to be self-sufficient and it was great to be able to help the children and see an aspect of their everyday life.
After lunch we all went together with the children equipped with protective gloves and large bin-bags to clean the local Payum Beach. It was truly shocking the actual number of bags that were filled with plastic objects of all kinds, making us aware how we all need to care and protect our global environment. The most heart-warming moment of the day was seeing the look of happiness in the children’s eyes when they were given ice cream! Outsiders would never think that these children have HIV and there is still a misconception that you can’t be around HIV patients and that they are people to be avoided.
The experience I had helped me to recognize the seriousness of HIV and understand what it really feels like to be in that situation. I want to show these children my highest respect and gratitude for showing me that every moment of your life should be lived to the fullest. To this end, our Year 12 group are determined to help the Centre by raising money for their scholarship fund through upcoming bake-sales and the sale of gift items made by the community from recycled materials. We are also looking for ways to develop a closer relationship between the students of our school and the work of the Centre in the future - it would be truly excellent if we could give them as much support as possible. Altogether this was a truly unforgettable day.