Burmese refugee: All I want for Christmas is my HIV/AIDS drugs
Posted by Ann Corcoran on December 23, 2013
My alerts are filled with news of charitable groups giving Christmas parties and other gift-giving events for the ‘holiday’ season. I’m fully convinced that we have no more poor Americans remaining. When I grew up it was all about Appalachia. But, I guess those folks have moved on up. Or, as fans of Nascar and Duck Dynasty, they aren’t so attractive to the do-gooder crowd.
This article from Tulsa, Oklahoma says the 5,000 Burmese who have arrived there since 2007 are living “on the fringe” which makes me wonder how we keep hearing that 80% (or more) of refugees have become self-sufficient within their first year in America.
Here is the news from Austin, Texas about the needy Aung Min family. Hat tip: Joanne.
They want a another baby and they need to keep Dad free of HIV/AIDS long enough to conceive one!
Uka Aung Min spent two days resting on the floorboards of a car, trying to be invisible. He would take little sips of water and eat only a little bit after dark. As a student protester, he was no longer safe in Burma.
The car took him from Burma, also known as Myanmar, to Thailand and then Malaysia, where he would spend 11 years in a refugee camp. There, he met his wife, Naw.
Now this makes no sense. Because he was HIV-positive he was allowed to come to the US, but the pregnant wife was left behind? And, if refugees are becoming self-sufficient, how on earth did he wander homeless from Alaska*** to Texas. Was no one, no contractor, monitoring his care and his meds? Wasn’t the whole reason he was given a ticket to America was to get his HIV drugs? Does no curious reporter wonder how this is possible?
After Naw became pregnant with daughter Okee, Uka Aung Min, 32, learned he was HIV-positive. With no medicine available to him in the refugee camp, he was allowed to become a refugee to the United States.
First he settled in Alaska, and then he came to Austin. At times he was homeless, but eventually he was able to move his family here and meet Okee, who is now 2, for the first time.
Goodies are flowing in, but they need money for HIV/AIDS medicine! (For rent, utilities, internet etc. as well!) Didn’t we learn that the whole reason Uka Aung Min got into the US was so he would be treated for AIDS?
Since being featured in the Statesman (Season for caring) program, the Aung Mins have received a couch and love seat, beds from Factory Mattress, dental care from Aloha Dental, an iPad and bookshelves.
They still have a lot of needs: rent and utilities assistance; a car; day care for Okee to enable Naw, 36, to attend English language classes in January; Internet service; dressers; dining room furniture; and a toy box. They also would love help paying for medicines to keep Naw HIV-negative while conceiving a brother or sister for Okee. Gift cards for clothing, groceries and gas would be appreciated. Okee loves to draw, and they would like to give her crayons and paper. [Crayons and paper have got to be cheaper than those high-heeled shoes for a two-year-old!—ed]
So where was Catholic Social Services of Alaska when it came to monitoring Uka?
***I wondered who might be responsible for letting Uka Aung Min wander America and become homeless without AIDS drugs and it sure looks like it was Catholic Social Services of Alaska. LOL! They claim to have a self-sufficiency rate of 79%. Was Uka’s AIDS so bad he couldn’t work? Is he working now?
The resettlement contractors will be quick to tell you that this is America and people are allowed to move without checking in with anyone, however, this story just reminds us that there are refugees with communicable diseases (like HIV/AIDS and TB) who are moving around with no one monitoring whether they are staying on their meds!
For more on refugee health issues, check out our category here with its 186 previous posts on the problems!
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