Thursday, November 15, 2018


Just back from an enlightening 2 day trip to Fang and all points north into the hills and valleys of northern Thailand. As I had visited that part of the countryside on several occasions previously, the trip in itself, although passing through many scenic locations, didn't qualify to be described as  enlightening. What made it enlightening was what I experienced while there and the sweet and sour memories that lingered with me on my return journey. Sweet because I witnessed first-hand the incredible inner strength that some of the people I met displayed and made me feel humble in their presence. Sour because of the effects of the stigma some others were forced to endure from their neighbours and sometimes their own loved ones. I am talking, of course, about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

I was fortunate to be in the company of 3 hard working and totally dedicated young gentleman, employed by the northern Thailand charity foundation "Rejoice Charity". They are affectionately known as "The Three Men and A Truck" charity by the local communities and HIV patients they cheerfully present with, Formula Milk, sweets, snacks, cast-off clothing but most of all a listening ear and ever-ready words of sympathy and understanding, something which can be in very short supply in their local community. Their role in  supporting children, families and communities in rural Chiang Mai Province can be a daunting and sometimes thankless task and one which, unfortunately, the end is not in sight. Read more about them and the work they do here

During all the time I spent with them, which included an overnight stay in a Fang hotel and a few refreshments before  dinner, not once did I hear or detect a hint of dissatisfaction, frustration or disagreement (except, maybe, who's round it was to buy the beer!) and how well they deserved that cool refreshing liquid after their gruelings day's work. They'd soon be up and back on the road again, together with local Health Care Workers (all HIV infected) visiting another batch of needy locals, some hilltribe and some Thai. Never showing signs of hurry or time constraints and always leaving the impression that they had travelled from Chiang Mai, solely to visit them. 

A mention must be given to the volunteers, themselves infected with the HIV virus, who assist the doctors and nurses at the various rural hospitals and clinics who's help is invaluable and rightly deserve the title of "Angels of the North". Of course, what charity doesn't need donations and sponsors and Rejoice is very much in the same financial dire straights, even more so because of the below-the-radar operation it employs, thereby only just managing to survive almost on a day-to-day basis. They also operate a school sponsorship scheme which, for small amounts, can make the difference between a child getting a worthwhile education, in many cases up to university level and scrounging day-to-day in the squalor and grime of their lowly existence. 

Having lived in Thailand for almost 20 years I am fully aware of the numerous charities, orphanages etc that exist in and around and beyond the Chiang Mai area and all doing incredible work for their organisation. All, except maybe the large international christian sponsored, needing assistance, in one form or another, but believe me if Rejoice, who are not having any regular or reliable sponsorship, become unable to continue their outstanding work, it could be the difference between life and death for many of the people who rely on them so desperately.

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