Dhammayietra--Mongkol Borei (DYMB) has been walking in communities with AIDS for a year now. Already some days the walk seems very long although we know these are only the first steps.
The staff "walk" by motorbike to the villages every day. It took most of last year to build up to a full load of 30 villages for each team of 2 people. Much had to be done and revised and redone to get the systems set up to support the teams going out everyday. Three different kinds of bags have been tried to devise a system for carrying all the charts and medicines on the `moto', making them easy to use in the home, and protecting them from rain and motorbike spills during rainy season. The chart has been revised umpteen times already and is undergoing another revision now as the team is learning counseling skills from a social service NGO. Sadly we have also learned that printing charts for children in a different color makes them easier to differentiate from the adult charts.
A day is never typical except perhaps that all begin at the office every morning before heading out. Even though a team covers the same 30 villages, each team member usually follows his/her own villages and patients. All of last year there were 2 teams but a 3rd has been added this February and another will be added later this year. The plan is to add another 5 khums (communes) this year and the final 3 next year. Always step-by-step, it will take until mid-2003 to reach the 166+ villages in Mongkol Borei District.
Most of Try's villages are near the Battambang border. His home is just across the border in Battambang Province and some day he should sometimes be able to work from home. Now he sleeps in the office during the week and goes home on weekends. Late on Wednesday Try went to see if 3 family members of a patient had returned from HIV testing in Battambang. "Sothy" is anew patient we learned about after he tested positive at the referral hospital here in town. He was devastated because he had donated blood to his 16-yearold daughter 3 years ago. Try tried to decrease fears by telling him the hospital here does screen blood for transfusions. Many people receive transfusion at home and have no way to know if the blood is screened or not. Sothy and his wife are worried about her and about their 7-month-old baby. They asked theft 18 year old son who `plays around a lot' to go be tested also.
The nearest testing center that offers reliable testing is in Battambang town. Until this month it...