Pan comes from Cambodia. When he was just 11 years old he tested positive for HIV.
It was the day his world fell apart.
“After I got the results, I lost all my hope. I did not think anyone could help me, I thought I would just die”.
Worse news was to come. Alone, ill and frightened, Pan went to live with an aunt. Already poor, she struggled to feed and clothe him. Pan says his aunt didn‟t treat him well. Judging by the tears in his eyes when he told us, we think that‟s an understatement.me.
Months later, Pan‟s parents died within weeks of each other because of AIDS. Pan was forced to leave school and sell rice on the streets to earn money. He knew that life-saving medication was available but he didn‟t know how to get it. As the months passed, Pan grew weaker and weaker.
“It was a bad time that I don‟t like to remember. I was paper thin and I had no strength.”
A priest called Father Jim heard about Pan‟s situation and stepped in to help. Father Jim worked for Maryknoll, a Catholic Missionary Organisation whose work is funded by CAFOD and which offers medical care, nutritious food, school support, and loving, caring homes to children affected by HIV. Shocked by Pan‟s physical condition, Fr Jim took him straight to hospital and staff from Maryknoll visited daily to keep his spirits up. When Pan was discharged three weeks later, Father Jim was there to meet him. Next, Father Jim arranged for Pan to live with caring people in a safe and happy home. Pan started taking medication and was soon strong enough to return to school.
Four years on, Pan says his life is transformed. “When I started lessons I was so happy! I felt like a normal boy, doing normal things. Every day I feel lucky.”
Sadly Pan’s experience is shared by thousands of children. Children who miss out on feeling normal and doing normal things‟.
Today, Pan is healthy, happy and filled with excitement for the future. But his story could have been so different.
“If it wasn‟t for Maryknoll‟s help, I don‟t think I would be here. I couldn‟t carry on living with so much pain” .
By giving a gift to CAFOD this Harvest – either by donating what you can afford in the envelope or by signing up to give a regular gift by direct debit – you can help the world’s poorest children get the care and support they so desperately need. In other words, you could give them back the childhoods they deserve: free of pain, hunger and worry.
Please give what you can at www.cafod.org.uk/fastday.
Don’t forget to fill out the Gift Aid declaration on your Fast Day donation – it will increase the value of your gift by adding 25p to every £1 given, at no extra expense to you.