A new safe space for those with HIV/AIDS in Chiang Mai
We are so excited to share with you about our new project: Shalom House, a safe space for those we are reaching out to and a place for us to connect, disciple, and take care of each other. We want it to be a place that is open and welcoming for youth, those living with or affected by HIV, the vulnerable, and anyone who needs a place of rest and community.
Pi Daeng and Pi Ann, the RG team leaders, put it best:
“From our understanding, the local church is a safe space for people…but we know that’s not always the case. Many churches don’t want to talk about sexuality, it’s ‘dirty’ and ‘sinful.’ We’ve seen churches that find out that someone is living with HIV, and then see them as ‘unclean.’ The idea of a safe space has to be parallel with doing outreach in communities where people are living with or affected by HIV. Many of the youth we know and work with are struggling with sexuality and how to understand sex. The church doesn’t talk about sexuality, and neither do many Christian families. Most of these youth are studying at Buddhist schools, so they learn about sexuality outside of church and their Christian communities. So these youth aren’t sure how to integrate their Christian life with the rest of their lives, including sexuality; there’s no discipleship or mentorship, so they face it on their own.
“This is our inspiration to run Shalom House. We want it to be a space where we help the youth face their problems and find healthy solutions that are Christ-centered. We want it to be a home with open doors where everyone feels welcome.”
Recent statistics put the HIV infection rate in Thailand at over 40 people per day, half of them youth. The reality for many of them day-to-day is that they continue with negative behaviours such as drug use. They may not be able to take responsibility for specific roles and end up relying on others. It can mean they lose motivation to keep up medication and health care. Each of these has its own implications for a person’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Radical Grace: Relational Approaches to HIV and AIDS
Our ministry focuses on bringing about internal transformation in people living with HIV, to help them discover a sense of purpose and worth. This leads to planning for a future; changing attitudes; adhering to medical care; increasing independence; developing problem-solving skills. We work towards unity in families and communities, with members caring for and helping each other.
We also equip local pastors and community leaders in culturally respectful ways to understand the virus and its impact. During Radical Grace workshops, participants assess local cultural, political, and socio-economic drivers for HIV and injustice. Thus issues of injustice can be remedied rather than directing prevention and care with an ‘us and them’ motivation. The team works with other organisations to explore a Christian response. Tools include training participants to run workshops in their own communities, extending the reach of awareness.
· for those who have already received training in HIV-related issues, that they will be able to apply what they have learned to their places of influence.
· for inter-agency partnerships to bring unity in the Kingdom, bless Thailand and deepen the effectiveness of each partner’s work.
The following amounts will fund these items:
$18.00 Care package for one person
$25.00 Sustainable garden for a family affected by HIV
$32.00 Scholarship for holistic healing retreat
$110.00 Year of training for Christian leader to care for an HIV-affected community
$175.00 Life skills programme for girls living in prison
Donate here and quote Radical Grace Project: # 98382