Nong Bua Lamphu (Agenzia Fides) - The missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word (Verbite), together with many lay volunteers, are committed to assisting, giving dignity and giving renewed hope to AIDS patients. The Center for the fight against AIDS entitled "Mother of Perpetual Help", located in Nong Bua Lamphu, in the Northeast of Thailand, near the border between Thailand and Laos, aims at recovering and giving a dignified life to people affected by HIV and AIDS. The Verbite missionary Fr. Truong Thong highlights in an interview with Fides that it was Bishop George Yod Phimphisan, C.SS.R of the diocese of Udon Thani (now deceased), who invited the Society of the Divine Word in Thailand in 1998, entrusting the management of the Assistance Center for AIDS patients to the missionaries. Two missionaries began the work in 2000, followed by other confreres: there are now 12 Verbites in the country, of different nationalities (Vietnamese, Indonesian, Indian, American and German).
Extreme poverty, isolation and stigmatization are all factors that make life very difficult for AIDS patients in Northeast Thailand. "Often there are children who are orphans, infected by HIV, children of parents who died of the disease", says to Fides Fr. Thong Le.
Since 1997 the "Mother of Perpetual Help" Center has assisted newborns and children affected by HIV, mainly from poor families. It started with the assistance to about 40 children, it has grown to help about 400 people each year. "One of the priorities of the Help Center today is a special AIDS education and awareness program, conducted with school students, brought to 20 schools each year", concludes the Verbite. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 3/10/2018)