EUROPE/AUSTRIA - “With AIDS orphans, the challenge is not only health care but above all to give meaning to the all too short life of these children" - Missio Austria's commitment to support projects for AIDS victims

Vienna (Agenzia Fides) - "AIDS is a terrible plight. Particularly with regard to AIDS orphans, the challenge is not only health care but above all we must try to give meaning to life that is too often short of these children. The joy of life of these sick children teaches us the ultimate goal of our life: to love and be loved!” These were the words of Monsignor Leo-M. Maasburg, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Austria (Missio Austria) in a statement sent to Fides, in light of the World AIDS Day on December 1.
The countries most affected by the pandemic are the developing countries: 98% of deaths from AIDS occur in these countries. Missio Austria wants to attract attention primarily to the serious consequences of the pandemic in children, creating an awareness of the causes and contexts, to show real possibilities of solution. Missio Austria has been supporting projects for the treatment of AIDS patients for years, helping widows and orphans, and also treating the psycho-social and spiritual aspects related to this disease.
"We're almost the only ones that help mothers with AIDS and their children," says Fr. John Phuong Dinh Toai, 33-year-old Camillian, who at the request of the Archbishop of Thanh-Pho Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, runs an orphanage for children with parents suffering from AIDS or who are already dead from the disease. AIDS in the Asian country is a subject that is not spoken of, and whoever has it is marginalized from society. Andreas Thonhauser, Editor-in-Chief of missionary magazine published by Missio Austria (named "Alle Welt"), has published the testimony of this young priest who currently manages a house, along with several collaborators, that is currently home to 60 children, while another 300 are cared for within their own families.
"We try to make the children stay with their parents as long as possible," says Fr. John, who had almost finished his medical studies when he heard the call and the desire to give something more than medical attention, "My greatest desire was, and still is, to serve people, to serve God and bring Christ to men." Thus, Fr. John also accompanies the children in the orphanage who are to facing death: "We have brought in many of our children from off the street. We try to give them a dignified life, but also a dignified death." With his presence, Fr. John wants to change the lives of AIDS orphans for the better, and offer these children, with his service to them, a life of dignity. (MS) (Agenzia Fides 30/11/2009)

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