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Healthcare for Street Kids

November 30, 2010

Our Partners

The SOLD Project is proud to partner with Volunteers for Child Development Foundation (VCDF), an important organization working with at-risk street children in Chiang Mai, Chiang Sean, and the Burmese border.

As the majority of street children are undocumented and lack identification cards, these children cannot take advantage of Thailand’s generous national health care program. The children and youth also lack the finances to pay for their own treatments. Since the program began, VCDF has been able to obtain medical care for over 100 children and young mothers who would not have been able to afford it otherwise.

SOLD contributes a small amount each quarter to VCDF to support their new medical program. VCDF, for the first time, is now able to purchase infant formula for the young mothers. Though breast milk is the healthiest form of nutrients for newborns, many of the mothers are unable to provide milk for their children because the mothers have abandoned their babies or have contracted HIV/AIDS. If the mother is a person living with HIV/AIDS, VCDF encourages that mother to refrain from feeding their child breast milk, but, often, they lack the finances to buy formula. Previously, disadvantaged mothers, most of who are in between the ages of 16 and 22, would feed their newborns coffee creamer or sweetened soy milk they bought at the 7-11. Being able to purchase quality infant formula will help the babies start out life healthy.

The key for a child’s recovery is that they first feel good physically, healthy. When a child feels that their health is being taken care of by someone, that child feels important. At the Drop-In Center, the kids feel that many people care about them as their physical needs have been met. When they are healthy, they are then more apt to take advantage of our other services at VCDF such as learning to read and write, life-skill training, HIV/AIDS training and vocational skill training.

Below are statements from the at-risk women and children who have taken advantage of the healthcare program SOLD helps VCDF to provide:

“I came to Chiang Mai to sell flowers with an older boy. When I’m sick, the older boy can’t take care of me. When I got in an accident, VCDF staff took me to the clinic. I want to thank the people who sent the money to let me see the doctor.” – Male, age 11

“I beg for money with my mom. I get really tired. When I get tired, sometimes I don’t feel well, but my mom won’t take me to the doctor. I went to the doctor with VCDF and I took the medicine. I felt a lot better.” – Female, age 7

“Even though I have HIV, my daughter is healthy and free of the virus. VCDF staff taught me that she might catch HIV if I let her drink my breast milk. I can’t afford formula for my baby, so I would buy her soy milk and regular milk from 7-11. Now, VCDF bought me infant formula that will ensure my daughter gets the right vitamins and nutrients. I am so thankful for their help.” – Female, age 24

“I don’t have an ID card so I can’t go to the hospital when I get sick. I work all night at the bar and I don’t always have a good place to sleep so I don’t get enough rest. Last time I felt sick and had trouble breathing, VCDF took me to a doctor and I got an x-ray. It’s the first time I ever had an x-ray. They looked at my lungs and gave me medicine that I took every day. After I took all of the medicine, I felt better.” – Male, age 22

“I caught mono from working in the bar and went to get medicine. I slept at the Drop-In Center while I recovered. I’m happy that there are people here to help me if my friends or I need it.” – Male, 23

“I had a toothache and the dentist made me feel better. I wasn’t scared of the dentist because I went with the VCDF staff.” – Female, age 13

Note: The above information comes from two 2010 VCDF reports on their program.

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