Here at the AID FOR AIDS International (AFAI) headquarters in New York City we receive dozens of packages per week. Every time the FedEx worker shows up with another delivery of boxes we take them straight back to the medicine storage room—a room in the back of our office lined with shelves that are stocked with donated medications. With each new shipment we receive, Leonardo, the Coordinator of our HIV Medicine Recycling Program, sorts through and inspects every single bottle to determine if it can be used and sent to our beneficiaries across the world. However, when Leonardo walked out of the medicine storage room last week, it wasn’t the latest shipment of antiretrovirals that had him smiling from ear to ear. This time he was carrying an unexpected package, a letter and large color drawing sent from the children at the Fuyang AIDS Orphan Salvation Association (AOS) in China.
The AIDS Orphan Salvation Center in the Anhui province of East Central China provides services to over 600 children who are affected by HIV and AIDS in the region. In 2004 we received a request on behalf of Ren Nan-nan, one of the children at AOS. She wanted to enlist in our Access Treatment Program to begin receiving free HIV medication recycled through our Recycling Program here in New York, and after hearing the compelling details of her case we knew that we had to reach out and help.
Nan-nan was born with HIV, and at a very young age both of her parents passed away. Because of the fear, stigma, and lack of information about HIV and AIDS in rural China, none of her relatives or members of the community wanted to have any contact with her. When the director of AOS found her in 2003, she had been abandoned for over a year and the virus had progressed to a point where her growth and development had been severely stunted.
Looking at Nan-nan today, you see a grown woman who barely resembles the little girl found nearly a decade ago. She now leads a happy and healthy life, holds down a full-time job, and this year she married and became pregnant with her first child. With the help of the medication sent to her from AFAI, she will be able to give birth to a child free of HIV. In her letter to us she writes, “Your care and your help has given me my second life, and I will cherish every moment. It is because of your help that I am able to have today’s happy life. I cannot find the proper words to express my gratitude. I can only hope to have the opportunity to use my own strength to return your selfless help in the future.”
Back in the New York office Leonardo shows off the drawing to everyone, still smiling. “This package means a lot to all of us working here. It gives us the motivation to keep doing the work we do and to continue sending medicines to people in need,” he says while searching for the perfect spot to hang the drawing. “On this end, we don’t always get to see the faces of the beneficiaries, faces of orphaned children living with HIV like Ren Nan-nan. But tokens of appreciation such as these let us know that we are touching their lives.”
Translation Of The Letter
Dear AFA Staff,
Greetings! It is a great pleasure for me to express my deepest thanks to all of you.
I am Ren Nannan, an AIDS patient from Fuyang, Anhui, China. Since 2004, I have been taking medicines that you sent to me. During this period, my disease was brought under control and my health condition has steadily improved and become very good. What’s more, from an innocent girl I have been able to grow up into a sensible adult. This year I got married and have a happy family and a stable job. I do cherish my happy life today. I feel very fortunate.
Your care and your help has given me my second life and I will cherish every moment. It is because of your help that I am able to have today’s happy life. I cannot find proper words to express my gratitude. I can only hope I will have the opportunity to use my own strenght to return your selfless help in the future.
Again I want to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to all of you.
June 26, 2012