|16 year old Suntong Napaporn teaches other children in Bangkok about the dangers of HIV/AIDS with the Thai Concern Foundation.|
BANGKOK, Thailand, 22 Februaury 2005 - In the shadow of the bustling port of Bangkok stands a community very different from the pagodas and department stores of Thailand’s capital. The slum of Khlong Toey is an area with a reputation as a haven for drugs and other criminal activities. Environments like this provide a breeding ground for HIV/AIDS, with more than 200,000 cases in Bangkok alone.
Thirty-five-year-old Ingon knows the dangers all too well. She was infected with HIV eight years ago by her husband, who contracted it from a prostitute. He died four years ago, leaving her alone to care for their two children. Now, as a volunteer with the Thai Concern Foundation (TCF), she is acutely aware of how vulnerable neglected children in the area can be to the lure of drugs and sex.
“The children don’t get enough care and attention from their parents, because the parents work long hours and don’t come home until late,” says Ingon. “You notice that in the community, the age of the youth infected with HIV is getting younger and younger.”
Ingon tries to teach young people in Khlong Toey how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. The TCF, which is supported by UNICEF, uses games and role-play to educate children.
Suntong Napaporn, 16, participates in a scheme adopted by the TCF and other NGOs that uses children to teach other children how to stay safe from HIV/AIDS. “I see my friends having sex like this so I want to warn them and others, especially the younger ones,” she explains.
Community leaders hope that teenagers like Suntong will become role models for the younger generation and that by sharing their experiences, they will encourage the young people of Khlong Toey to avoid the pitfalls that could lead to a life-shortening illness.
The State of the World’s Children 2005 focuses on childhood, defined as the state and condition of a child’s life. The report identifies HIV/AIDS as one of the main threats to childhood, along with poverty and armed conflict. Read more on how HIV/AIDS threatens childhood.
15 November 2004:
UNICEF’s Steve Nettleton reports from Bangkok on how Thai children are learning about the dangers of HIV/AIDS through games, role-play and peer-led teaching.