A Parent’s Love and Pain
by Maria Juana Valenzuela
January 23, 2020
Quezon City, NCR, Philippines
Last Sunday, January 19, Humanist Alliance Philippines International in partnership with Rotary Club of Roosevelt and Project Red Ribbon brings you Duyan: A Love Without Borders that aims to eradicate stigma on Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and for the benefits of children living with HIV.
We let the parents and children experience Laughter Yoga for the first part of the program to let them relax and feel at ease which I can guarantee you they love and enjoyed it. We also provided them snacks after the Yoga and separate the children from their parents so we can have this heart to heart talk with them while the children do the art workshop with the help of HAPI Members/Volunteers.
In a separate room, HAPI’s Executive Secretary Claris Quezon, Chief Finance Officer Dwengster Bulaclac, Planning, Logistics Officer Steven Cross, and Parent Project Coordinator Pamela Magdaluyo conduct an Empowerment Session with the parents during the event. This time, they shared their personal stories: how they felt after knowing their son/daughter was tested positive for HIV, how they cope with day-to-day medications and hospitalizations, and how important their peer group is in terms of financial and emotional support.
One parent shared her story after finding out the baby she adopted test positive for HIV. Her world started collapsing since then.
“Hindi ko po matanggap!” (I can’t accept it!) said the parent while crying. The baby was only given to her to care for. At first, she has her doubts about taking in the baby but the moment she saw him, she fell in love with him right away.
She may be at a loss and could not accept the situation they were in now but one thing is for sure. She is trying her best to stay strong for the little boy whom she has just adopted. She gave unconditional love to her kid and I admire her for that.
I understand how they feel and I know exactly how hard it is to say or let other people know what you are going through as you are afraid to be judged. But like what Claris said, the very first step is to accept what disease you have, name it (as some of them can’t even say the word HIV).
His wife and two children tested positive for HIV, however, to their surprise he is negative. I don’t know if I should say that he is lucky to have been spared from this because when you heard him squeak you could still feel his pain. He said, “Bakit sila lang ang meron? Baket ako wala?” “ Kahit anong oras pwede silang mawala sa akin.” “Mas gugustuhin ko pang ako na lang ang meron huwag na sila,” he continued. All of us felt that.
If only I have the power to take away their pain. I swear I have done it right there and then. But the only thing that I can do is to educate people about what is HIV/AIDS to spread the word that they exist and need our help.
Thank you to all who helped and supported the goal of our organization to eradicate stigma and remove the irrational fears of people about HIV/AIDS.
Aside from this, we will continue to support Project Red Ribbon most especially their umbrella program DUYAN: Kids Living With HIV.
The children need help in terms of funding for daily medicines and daily dietary requirements to keep them healthy. This is a given. But our aim in establishing this advocacy is to also help the parents and guardians, make them realize their strengths and weaknesses, address their individual mental health issues, and empower them to have a more active participation in abolishing the internalized stigma they have been carrying inside them so that they would better help themselves and the children they love and cherish.