Introduction (taken from Bridge of Hope, written by Sister Rita Anutranont, IJS)
"The children are my inspiration to create or make new things. 'The Bridge of Hope' is a book that shares the emotions and feelings of orphan children living with HIV/AIDS. How do the children feel? What do they think about themselves? What do they think about adults and society?
For a year and a half, I have lived with these children and have come to love each one. I am amazed at how they all come from different backgrounds and are able to live together as a family. The children are the strongest, bravest and most patient children that I have ever known. They all understand the importance of taking their medicine and to maintain the inbalance in the various situations they encounter inside and outside the Center.
The closer I get to the children with their stories about their families, the more I find the value and meaning of life from the words of these innocent children.
The emotions, feelings and imagination of these CHILDREN has been represented by a symbol that these children feel represents their life. You will know what these children have faced. They did not choose to be born HIV positive. This book is called, "The Bridge of Hope". Every human being in the world should be a bridge for these children living with HIV/AIDS and help them reach their destiny, where they can meet the 'hope' of a new and better life. Their lives have the same value as that of other human beings. The good feeling in their hearts is a gift from God. This gift is the power and strength that will lead them to move forward and overcome all obstacles. This is possible throuugh the love, cooperation and help of society..."
I am like a Cloud, written by Cloud, girl, 12 years old
"I remember when I was young, I liked to look at the sky because it has many bright and beautiful colors such as sky-blue, white, grey, aqua blue, yellow, red, purple, pink, marline and black. The sky always has a different color depending upon the time or the season: like morning or afternoon, evening or nighttime, Summer or Winter or rainy season. Whenever, it is always attractive and beautiful. Sometimes it is dreadful when the sky is dark before a rainstorm. I am afraid and I don't like the sound when it thunders and there is lightning before the rainstorm.
I like to look at a CLOUD in the sky. I love it. It seems soft and drifts with the wind as though it is happy and free. The cloud always changes its appearance to look like an elephant, a lion, a dragon, a tiger, and many more shapes that I can't remember.
My life is like the cloud in the sky. I am like A CLOUD. This cloud was born on the 20th of October 1992 in Kampangphet province. My mom died when I was four years old. After that, this cloud moved and lived in Bangkok for almost 1 year, and then moved to stay with my relatives in Chonburi province. When I was ten years old, my dad died. I had to leave school, where I was studying in Prathom 4, because of being HIV positive. As a result, this could had to move to the Camillian Center, Rayong. At first, I did not want to be here because I missed my brother and my friends. As time passed, I adjusted myself and my life was better. I had the chance to take HIV medicine and healthy meals and to go everywhere such as the department store, sea or theater. I am so happy. Sometimes, I think of my home very much. My relatives come to see me at the Center. It is not often. I feel my temper always changes like the cloud changes its appearance. I am moody, irritable, lonely, bored excited, regretful, and peevish.
I have had good luck this year because I can go to school. I study with my friends. I enjoy every subject. I love my friends and my teachers love me. I intend to study and to be a good girl to have a good life in the future. I wish to be a singer, a famous singer, and to have good health. I expect society will continue searching and producing new medicine for HIV positive people. The HIV medicine is very expensive. I would like to beg you, please donate medicine or your money to us to buy medicine so we can have a better life. Thank you so much."
The Little River, 10 year-old girl
"My life seems like a river. I love rivers. I like swimming in the river. Everytime I swim, I feel very happy. My house was near a river, so I was lucky to have been able to swim often with my two younger sisters and one elder brother. All of us were so happy.
Unfortunately, I got sick since I am HIV positive. It made me so weak. I couldn't swim anymore. I had to watch others swimming.
In the river, I saw fish and other things such as tree branches, leaves, and plastic bags. People take water from the river to water the trees and plants and to clean their houses. Some people wash their clothes in the river as well. I saw a dog jump into the river. I thought the dog was hot and it knew the river could make it cooler. The river gives many benefits to living and non-living things. We can use the water to help us keep things clean. I always thought that I would like to remain a long time in the river and use the water to take a bath in order to remove the virus from my body like the river washes my clothes clean.
Water can only clean my clothes, but not my virus. I felt so sad and ashamed. I did not want anyone to know that I was HIV positive. I hated it when I was getting sick with a fever, cough and headache. It made me suffer. I don't want to die young so I have to take some medicine against the virus everyday.
Today I am very happy at the Center because I have a chance to swim in the sea and in a swimming pool. However, the happiest thing in my life is to go to school with other children. Mother Rita told me that a teacher said I'm lovely and have good manners. Mother Rita also told me that I have beautiful handwriting. I'm so proud and delighted that I feel like a river full of water. On the other hand, I feel sad when I am stubborn or do something wrong, tell a lie or quarrel with my friends. It is as if the water in the river goes down. I would like to be a good girl then my river will always be full.
If my life is like a river, the water in the river will be clean and full when everyone gives me love and kindness and understands that I want to have a chance to improve and develop the same as others.
This little river girl was born on September 12, 1994 in Chonburi. The little river girl is looking forward to receiving love, compassion, kindness and help from all of you. Thank you."