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2007.06.11
* Buddhist monks help Cambodia's HIV-affected families * 02 Mar 2007 Note: Names of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS have been changed. Throughout Cambodia, Buddhist monks are held in high regard. Not only as religious leaders but for their traditional role helping those most in need. The Venerable Ong Sary and two fellow monks from the Chbar Ampov Pagoda near Phnom Penh are visiting a family affected by HIV and AIDS. Along with spiritual guidance, it's an opportunity for them to advise family members about nutrition, HIV treatment and prevention. For the past 6 years, UNICEF has been working closely with Government and other partners to train monks to support Cambodians living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): Haritiana Rakotomamonjy, UNICEF Cambodia HIV/AIDS Head of Section: “Well the Buddhist monks really play an important role to decrease stigma and discrimination against families living with HIV/AIDS in the communities. Secondly, they also provide spiritual and psychological support to those families including some of the children. And thirdly, they help mobilize community support to make sure that those children are able to come to their monthly medical visit.” Some 12,000 children in Cambodia are infected with HIV. Moreover, there are 570,000 orphans. A rising AIDS death toll is projected to account for about one in four orphans. In the Takeo province, Partners in Compassion is a Buddhist-Christian care centre at the Opot Pagoda. It's home to more than 60 orphaned children – a third of whom are HIV positive. The youngest in their care is six- month-old baby Sreypo. Her mother was raped and does not want to care for her. Partners in Compassion has trained 80 local monks to raise community awareness of HIV, particularly among children, and to help HIV affected families. Sreynik is four years old and lost her father through AIDS. Both she and her mother Khin are HIV positive. Khin wants her daughter to have a future and greatly values the monks' work. SOUNDBITE (KHMER/NARRATOR VOICE OVER) Khin, Mother: She says along with rice, oil and salt, that she receives from the World Food Programme, the monks help them with hospital transport and costs for HIV treatment. Working with the Buddhist principle of compassion, UNICEF and its partners are helping monks to be more than just advocates for orphans, children or families affected by HIV AIDS. They are now at the forefront of HIV awareness in Cambodia and helping to care for the country's most vulnerable.
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