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The Premiership Quarter
How To Run Society
The Positive Action Foundation Philippines Inc (PAFPI) was founded in 1998 by committed and concerned Filipinos, most of whom are HIV positive. The organisation provides education, care, support and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDs and their caregivers.
APHEDA supports PAFPI's pre-departure HIV/AIDs training for Filipino migrant contract workers. The organisation also provides counseling, self-expression workshops, skills and capacity building for HIV positive people, home and hospital visits and burial facilities. In addition, PAFPI runs education campaigns to inform the public about HIV/AIDS issues and is an advocate to the government and other bodies on improving the conditions for HIV/AIDS sufferers, including successfully lobbying for the introduction of much more affordable generic treatments.
PAFPI was formed to provide support to people such as Tina:
Tina worked as a domestic help in Hong Kong. Like the other 3,000 Filipinos who leave the country daily to work abroad, she hoped that her earnings would help improve her family's situation. She sent money home to pay for her elderly parents' medical treatment and to put food on the table.
She worked in Hong Kong for 3 years without ever going home. Whilst there she fell in love and, planning to marry her partner, she went home to seek her parents blessing. On taking a medical test to reenter Hong Kong she found out she was HIV positive. Deeply shocked and troubled that her partner had betrayed her, the diagnosis meant that she could not return to Hong Kong as a domestic worker, nor could she work in any other country.
How was she going to look after her parents? And how was she going to cope? How would her family and friends treat her if they knew she had AIDS? Tina thought about the terrible social stigma she had to face, and worried about how HIV was going to affect her health.
She became depressed and contemplated suicide. In the process of getting treatment for a secondary infection, she was told about PAFPI, which runs a drop-in centre for those with HIV/AIDS and their families. Tina had heard about AIDs before leaving the Philippines but did not know how it was transmitted. She also thought that it was something other people get, not "decent women" like herself. She believed that only homosexuals and prostitutes contracted the virus. PAFPI's training is tailored to engage with this stereotypical thinking.
When Tina visited PAFPI, she felt an overwhelming sense of relief because she had found a place where she could be understood, and where she could get help. Tina said "PAFPI volunteers provided [her] with comfort, hope and courage to face the reality". Tina is now among the 30 PAFPI volunteers who provide pre-departure training.
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA supports PAFPI's pre-departure training because we believe that educating contract workers about the dangers of HIV/AIDS is one of the most important contributions we can make to prevent the spread of the virus. For workers like Tina, this training is too late. But for those who are embarking on their journey to provide a living for their families, the training could be the difference between life and death.
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