Monday, February 7, 2011

Love and acceptance are what HIV patients crave for in Wat Pra Baht Nam Phu

Lopburi, Thailand- 26th of Jan. When HIV positive patients turn to a temple, they basically come thinking that they want just to die peacefully but what those patients could receive at the temple might be beyond what any treatment could give them. It’s the caring moral and spiritual care those patients need when, traditionally, almost all the people around them walk away on them including their families. They seek peace to ease the emotional and the physical pain they must be feeling. Simply, they only want a shoulder to cry on.

Wat Pra Baht Nam Phu, a Buddhist Temple which is built at the foot of a small mountain in Lopburi, in Thailand 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Bangkok, is home to 550 HIV positive patients, including 140 children who find medical and spiritual treatment from buddhist monks to ease their pain a little bit.

During my visit to the temple with the Global Health Workforce Alliance and a number of participants in the Second Global Forum on Human Resource for Health we all had a close and touching insight to how the temple is working and how its patients are being treated.

In 1990, the temple was meant to be a shelter to AIDS patients when two young HIV-positive men came to Wat Phra Baht Nam Phu seeking care after there was nobody wanting to look after them. Years later, the temple grabbed the world’s attention and received donations from; King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Thai government and international public figures. The financial support helped the temple survive and provided the patients an adequate treatment.

“There is still a lot work need to be done to help the patients thoroughly. We mostly rely on donations to help the temple keep operating and volunteers also are a great help for us. Nonetheless, the patients mainly look for love and acceptance and that’s exactly what they find in the temple,” said Buddhist monk Alongkot Dikkapanyo, 53, and the temple’s founder.