Yesterday, Humanist Alliance Philippines, International held its first online event, “Duyan: Online Pajama Party” to benefit Filipino Kids Living with HIV.
The kids and the parents were welcomed by HAPI Zambales Lead Convenor Van Catayong with a very short but meaningful message.
HAPI Jr. Ambassador Angelica Driskell followed afterward, entertaining the kids in a storytelling session with the help of puppets and her daughter. With their bright faces, the kids clearly enjoyed it, and they were so active during the whole show! You could hear them laughing and even saying some of the lines of the stories they were familiar with. We were happy to provide these children with formula milk as it was one of their needs.
Our time, however, was mostly spent with their parents. HAPI Executive Secretary Steven Cross, whom we are grateful for, facilitated the Guided Sharing Circle during this portion. Hearing these parents’ stories broke our hearts; we learned how hard their life is, how difficult this pandemic is for them, and how badly people treat them. Some parents shared how they handle their situation, saying that they have become used to it. Some mentioned that they are lucky to have families who understand and support them; meanwhile, others shared that they are discriminated against by their neighbors and even their own families. I lost my cool after hearing one of the mother’s stories, how the whole community judges, discriminates and even loathes her and her daughter. They don’t even want to give them a ride out of fear that “the virus might jump and get them infected”! Some people have even told these families that when they die they will just wrap their bodies and will just burn them.
It is because of prejudice (as well as stigma and the lack of sex education and awareness) like this that the Philippines has been ranked as the country with the fastest-growing number of HIV cases in Asia and the Pacific.
We at HAPI believe in an inclusive society anchored through compassion and empathy.
Through these kids’ innocent eyes, let us assimilate ourselves into their lives and their tireless struggles against stigma and discrimination.
Do not hate what you don’t know.
Educate. Eradicate. Engage.
Thank you to our beloved donors for this event:
Humanist Global Charity
Van and Garry
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