Last month we hosted a mobile medical clinic in our building, thanks to a ministry called Relentless, which seeks to provide basic health care for people involved in the sex industry (as well as training and education opportunities for those in difficult situations). We turned the second floor front room and office into three exam rooms (with the help of a sheet) and our guest room became a quiet room for discussing test results and distributing medicine. Downstairs became a friendly and welcoming intake room, complete with a constant supply of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. Twenty-Nine people (almost all women) were seen by the three volunteer doctors, and there was a pretty constant flow of people throughout the afternoon. In addition to providing genuinely helpful medical care and an opportunity for neighbors to speak straightly with a doctor about the impact their choices are having on their bodies, it was a great opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with many women in our community, and to share about God’s care for them in action, as well as in word.
All of us, including the doctors, were surprised and dismayed by the 7 positive HIV test results. The doctor who started the mobile clinic ministry said that when they do these clinics in other red-light districts in Thailand they will usually find an average of one positive-HIV case per clinic day, from about 80 people. The very different numbers for the clinic we hosted reflected our experience with our neighbors – that our streets are something of a last stop for many, and so many of our neighbors are lost to HIV related diseases.
Since the clinic our team and some helpful volunteers have been working to follow up with those who expressed a desire for support as they make a health plan, and navigate the complex system of government care. Ling was able to work with one woman to track down a record of her government I.D. card, which allows her to now receive care and medication for $1 per doctor visit. Please be praying for each of these neighbors, especially those who are still processing through the hard news they recently received about their status. As we have opportunities in the future we hope to host similar health outreaches.
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