On wednesday we went to visit Bali Kids in Dalung, where we met Brenton Whittaker the manager, Rosanna White and the rest of the team who run this orphanage. Bali Kids is an orphanage for kids who need medical attention (including those affected by HIV), they provide accommodation, treatment (at clinical level)and also pre and post hospital care for these kids. Bali Kids also runs a mobile medical service that travels throughout Bali providing treatment to kids in remote areas as well as education programs regarding hygiene, health, diet, HIV/STD's, child protection, abuse, bullying and the Environment.
I sat down with Brent to talk about the work that they do and the problems they encounter. Majority of the HIV infections in Bali occur through heterosexual extramarital sexual relations, especially the paid relations and through sharing needles among drug addicts/takers (the UNAIDS report 2012 reported a more than 25% increase of infections in Indonesia among 15-49 years olds between 2001 and 2011). This coupled with a lack of education including any form of sexual education (young girls are not even told about their periods), abject poverty in some areas meaning their main concern is surviving today and not preserving the future and isolation of some communities which means little access to information; all these contribute to these escalating infection rates. Brent also told me about some specific cases that Bali Kids has experience with such as some children being taken out of care too soon because they looked fine and others who are denial and continues to have multiple partners despite being diagnosed because they felt fine. All these underlines the importance and urgency of education across the board, more efforts needs to be into this, to stop this epidemic.
We, at Bali Against AIDS, want to concentrate on getting the information to young people who are beginning their adult lives before they are set in their ways; that is our contribution towards an AIDS free generation. We want to do this not in a way that instills fear in them but in a positive manner, as a way of showing care to their partners and to themselves. We will do these by coupling the information with their interests and things that excite them such as social media, radio, pop stars and culture... This is how we will reach out to the youth of Bali.