Formerly Brahmavihara Cambodia AIDS Project
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History and Activities: Until 2010 Cambodia was rightly considered at the forefront of successful AIDS education, prevention and treatment. Unfortunately, those systems have weakened following the government direct takeover of AIDS treatment. Although the number of patients living successfully with AIDS is large, we increasingly see people who are either experiencing antiretroviral medicine failure or did not now they had AIDS until they were nearly dead. We are also seeing dramatic decreases in the medicines, funds and facilities available for those without resources. This phenomenon occurs worldwide; but we see its effects directly in our patients.
Through 2014, we were able to some extent, to compensate for decreasing resources. We enlarged our material aid programs. We provided monkey balm for all patients; soymilk for patients who couldn’t eat; food money for hospitalized patients with multi-drug-resistant tb; and food money and caregivers for those unable to manage and not eligible under other programs.
In addition, in two prisons we provided supplementary food and money for about 150 prisoners: pregnant and breastfeeding women; the elderly and disabled; and those with AIDS, tb, beriberi, cancer and other illnesses. We provided medicines for cryptococcyl meningitis, one of the three primary causes of death from AIDS here. We provided transportation money to obtain medicines for over 350 patients. Twice yearly we distributed rice to about 550 patients; and engaged in a very broad range of responses to specific needs.
As of 2015, our own resources have also been significantly reduced. We have been forced to close the prison programs, cryptococcyl meningitis program, and rice distributions, and to diminish the number of patients eligible for transportation to those who would die without assistance. As the organizations providing food and caregivers for hospitalized patients have lost funding we are attempting to take over the most desperate cases. A private donor is helping us continue to provide some essential medicines at the National AIDS Hospital.
As important as this material aid is and has been, it remains at the periphery of what we are designed to do. The heart of our work remains the development of intimacy with patients in ways that allow respect both for their suffering and for the healing power of the Buddha’s teachings, intimacy that allows them either to die or to live in whatever peace they are able to achieve.