CHONBURI — Thai and Norwegian business owners have raised nearly 100,000 baht to assist 48 HIV positive patients facing eviction from their homes in Chonburi province.
Bibi Michaelsen (name transcribed from Thai text), 33, presented the money to representatives of the Glory Hut Foundation in Banglamung district yesterday. Michaelsen and his group also donated 10,000-baht worth of food products to the patients.
A group of Norwegians and Thais present a donation to representatives of the Glory Hut Foundation in Banglamung district, 4 Jan 2015.
Michaelsen, who owns a Thai restaurant in Norway, said he started raising money for the Glory Hut Foundation after he heard the news that local residents voted to kick the charity out of their village last month. Residents of Lang Nern village told the charity that the presence of HIV patients in their community has affected land value and business.
"So, my friends and I in Norway and Pattaya [a popular resort town in Chonburi] raised the funds for the foundation," Michaelsen said.
The donated money rings in at exactly 99,999 baht, Michaelsen said. He added that both Thai and Norwegian business owners contributed to the fund.
"I want to tell Thai people that they should understand and sympathize with HIV patients, so that they can happily co-exist in society," Michaelsen explained.
Last month, staff at the Glory Hut Foundation said they were unable to move out of Lang Nern village because they lacked sufficient funds.
"We simply don't have the funds to move anywhere else," Chanchanok Khamtong, a spokeswoman for the charity, was quoted as saying by DPA. "We're not disturbing the villagers. We just want to help care for our patients."
Thailand has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in Asia, partly due to the widespread practices of unprotected sex and hypodermic needle drug use. According to the Bureau of Epidemiology, more than 1.2 million people in Thailand are living with HIV, yet only 250,000 patients are being treated for the disease. The kingdom sees around 10,000 new cases of HIV per year.
An international survey commissioned by US-based Planned Parenthood Foundation in 2011 shows that up to 62 per cent of young people in Thailand have unprotected sex with new partners.