As a participant in the Buds to Blossoms Pediatric Massage Program; I, and others traveled to Cambodia, to provide gentle massage to about 250 children with HIV. In order to support their health, well being, and development. At the beginning, I didn’t really know what to expect, we all met at a hotel in Phnom Penh, and got to know each other quickly at dinner. The next day we left for the orphanage, “New Hope For Cambodian Children,” or (NHCC), which is located in a rural area called Kampong Speu Province, about one hour away from the capital.
Of course being on a journey like that you ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” Giving my vacation away to massage 250 kids with AIDS in Cambodia. Will this be a sad journey, with lots of hardship, and suffering???
Arriving at the orphanage was a surprise, because it was the exact opposite, as soon as our car was driving through the gate many children were running and happily screaming, ”massage, massage!”
Wow, I couldn’t believe it, as soon as I got out of the car I already had one kid pulling at my hand, and another climbing up my arm smiling at me. They were all so welcoming, and extremely loving. Everybody was laughing, hugging, running around, and speaking a mix of English & Khmer.
That was not the picture I had painted in my head of these poor children with AIDS. NHCC is a beautiful orphanage created by the Tuckers, an American couple who have been dedicated to these children for the last 7 years. They have done incredible work, including but not limited to raising money to: build houses, classrooms, a library, small clinic, dancehall, playground and gardens. All of this to make a safe, and loving environment for the kids.
All of the kids involved, and often the caregivers, have AIDS. They are very fortunate to live there without the heavy stigma of the disease. The tragic history of most of the kids are very similar; most parents died from AIDS, leaving no one behind, or in some instances, leaving only a grandparent behind, who cannot take care of the child. The biggest obstacle was providing the children life-saving medication, so they were given to the NHCC, where they could recover.
When I was massaging the kids I often forgot that they were HIV positive. It was such a fun and happy time; they were all so extremely joyful, and appreciative. No matter how tired I was, there was just so much love and healing present, that it would flow back to me, reinvigorating my passion for the entire 2 weeks I was with them.
After taking a closer look at their bodies I could see a lot of scares, and painful sores breaking out on their skin. Some kids were also very behind in their development; they looked 6 years old, but were actually 13. Anytime anyone would come down with an infection we were asked to stay away from the kids, because any other illness could have a devastating impact on their already weakened immune system.
During the time we stayed at the orphanage a loving bond developed through giving nurturing massage every day, and playing together in the evening. The children were hungry for touch, and snuggle time; which helps with their emotional needs, pains, and anxiety.
I am very fortunate to have had this experience in Cambodia, and feel so much gratitude to everybody who supported my trip. I can already say that I am looking forward to many more…
Labor of Love
If you want to support me with this work:
1. Come in for a massage
2. Donate online
3. Donate to Buds to Blossoms by check
and mail it to:
Art of Touch
6401 Fairmount Ave #9
El Cerrito, Ca 94530
if you send a check please include my name
Karin Wieland in the memo field, so your donation is credited to my fundraiser.