HIV/AIDS ORPHANS IN MYANMAR
Bringing love and care to orphans abandoned by society.
Imagine being born with a virus which has no cure. Imagine being left at the hospital never knowing who your parents are. Imagine losing both of your parents to the disease at an early age. Imagine the torment of being abandoned by relatives and rest of society.
Myanmar is one of the countries most affected by HIV/AIDS in Asia. Estimates suggest there are a minimum of 60,000 HIV/AIDS orphans with approximately 18.000 deaths every year. To AIDS orphans in Myanmar, the only certainty in life is that a terrible and disfiguring death awaits at the imminent end of a life cut short by AIDS. However, given all we know about HIV/AIDS treatment today, there is no reason for anyone to die from AIDS.
Hoop Hero’s founders, Devan and Ethan, have committed themselves to bring hope and strength to children who live courageously with a deadly, highly stigmatized disease. They hope to bring love and care to the orphans abandoned by society, fundraise to bring monetary aid to the community, generate community awareness to destigmatize the disease, lobby with politicians to prevent and eradicate the disease, and reach out to global HIV organizations for medical aid for the orphans.
Devan and Ethan’s trip to Myanmar in December of 2019 was a life changing experience. During their time there, they facilitated various fun, interactive “game day” style basketball events to teach the orphans to have fun, build self-esteem, promote a long term healthy and active lifestyle, and bring out the “hero” in these children who face discrimination and adversity every day.
Most of the HIV/AIDS orphans were abandoned by their families and ostracized by their community since birth. They did not take anything for granted. They stayed true to themselves while living in a society that insists they are less human because they have been plagued with a deadly and incurable disease. The children happily played with flat balls, bent hula hoops and crumbling pieces of chalk during breaks. They ate their meals without wasting food. And despite their distressing histories, each one came out strong to smile through life.
Devan and Ethan will stay in touch with the orphanage during the next months, and plans to return later with monetary aid and a team of volunteers.
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang was the only candidate who had not published his HIV/AIDS policy on October 31, 2019. Devan and Ethan had the privilege to speak with Mr. Yang during a fundraiser event on November 3, 2019 where they confronted Mr. Yang about his lack of HIV/AIDS policy. Devan and Ethan engaged in a dialogue with Mr. Yang regarding the current status of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and steps to take to eradicate the disease. On November 10, 2019, Andrew released his health policy which addressed a number of issues that Devan and Ethan had brought up with him, including bringing down the cost of HIV/AIDS treatments, providing insurance coverage for HIV/AIDS treatments, breaking the patent on TRUVADA to provide low cost PrEP to anyone at risk, and providing funding for clinics such as Planned Parenthood that can screen for HIV/AIDS.
Myanmar reported its first COVID-19 cases on March 23, 200. On March 30, 2020, President Win Myint set up the Committee for Committee for Corona Virus 19 to help combat the disease.
Myanmar has been accused of its denial of the existence of the coronavirus deaths and victims, given the inadequate healthcare system compared to its neighboring countries.
The HIV/AIDS infected orphans in Myanmar are at a greater risk for infection since they have pre-existing mediation conditions. Since they have been a forgotten cluster of society faced with social and political discrimination, Hoop Hero will send 1,000 face masks to them to help the spread of the virus in their community.
Please support the orphans at this Hoop Hero GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/team-hoop-hero
HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCACY
The government of Myanmar is failing to care for children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS or whose family members suffer from the disease. Because the government has not spoken out forcefully enough to reduce the social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, the children and families suffering from HIV/AIDS are at the bottom of the social and political agenda. These children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS are more likely to be poor, abused, at risk of HIV infection, and to suffer psychosocial distress. They are less likely to go to school and to be healthy.
The government of Myanmar needs to step up to protect the human rights of children orphaned or affected by the epidemic. Most children affected by HIV/AIDS do not have enough information on the virus to understand why their parents had died, how to combat the stigma they faced, and how to prevent the spread of the disease and live a healthy life.
Hoop Hero has contacted the Myanmar program directors at the Human Rights School of Columbia University and other human rights organizations to work on a framework for the protection of orphans and vulnerable children living in a world with HIV/AIDS.
In 2020, the number of children orphaned by AIDS globally is expected to exceed 25 million. But that is just a fraction of the number of children whose lives will have been radically altered by the impact of HIV/AIDS. With HIV/AIDS infection on the rise in many parts of the world, the crisis for children will persist for decades, even as prevention and treatment programs are expanded.
Hoop Hero has been reaching out to global HIV organizations and publications to generate awareness and solicit medical and general aid for HIV/AIDS orphans in Myanmar, and eventually spread to other parts of the world.
Devan and Ethan will host basketball skills clinics catered to young, aspiring basketball players in the community. They will teach basic skills in a fun and positive way. Through this, kids will learn the basics of the game while emphasizing fun, cooperation, and teamwork. Young athletes will also learn the importance of giving back to the community. Each young athlete that participates will receive a Hoop Hero wristband and a Hoop Hero logo customized glow in the dark basketball endorsed by all-star basketball legend Stephon Marbury.
Hoop Hero has set up a GoFundMe page to raise awareness and solicit donors that will be promoted via social media and distributed to a global network of friends and family. The GoFundMe page link is here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/team-hoop-hero