February 5th, 2017:
My last stop with Meikswe Myanmar was a home for children living with HIV named Metta May May. This was the most heartbreaking of places I visited throughout my time in Myanmar. These eleven children were born to parents with HIV and contracted the disease along the way. Some of these kids have lost their parents, other’s have parents who are still fighting HIV/AIDS themselves and can’t care for them, and a few are left here by extended family who just don’t have the capability to care for the children properly. Many of the children still have local relatives who will visit and even take the children during school breaks for short periods of time.
Meikswe Myanmar and it’s donors currently employ 2 fulltime caretakers and pay for school fees, food, lodging and the retro-viral drug AZT. All children are required to attend the local public schools. Meikswe Myanmar operates three of these homes in Myanmar; in Lashio, Tantaung and Yangon. The Lashio site which I visited has adequate funding/support for the children in the area with HIV, but the Yangon and Tantaung site are in need of more funding to expand and offer support to more children.
In addition to housing children with HIV, the Metta May May program offers expectant mothers with HIV lessons to teach them not to pass the virus to their newborn children. The training is 45 days before birth and 45 days after birth, and has been successful with most women they have worked with.
Haung Naw (nicknamed Lone Lone) was born to Houng Yang (below), who has HIV but didn’t transfer it when her daughter was born. Houng Yang now acts as a caretaker in Metta May May and teaches other HIV infected women not to pass the disease on to their children.
Group portrait of all the current Metta May May residents.