A memorable first city visit for orphans

National, Normal


IT is a case of being so near yet so far for two Central province children who lost their parents to HIV/AIDS three years ago.
Eunage Philip, 12, and her brother Meiu, 9, of Hugetona village in the Papa-Lealea area, only an hour’s dinghy ride from Port Moresby city, were orphaned because no one in their village knew much about HIV/AIDS then and how to care for a person living with the virus (PLHIV).
According to a volunteer and stakeholder of the Central provincial AIDS committee Rev Hoge Rabura, the children’s parents would still be alive if the villagers had known how to care for them.
Rev Rabura said at his home yesterday that he heard of the orphans during one of his many workshops on HIV/AIDS  awareness, peer education training and home-based care (HBC).
“Many of these villagers and their neighbours had no knowledge of HIV/AIDS and its related problems.
“Because they didn’t know, they stigmatised and discriminated and did not care for the PLHIV. 
“As a result, these children are now the first known rural orphans to come out,” he said.
Rev Rabura said through their awareness, many villagers asked to be educated about the virus and how to care for their patients.
His HBC trainer wife, Vagahu, said the villagers realised through HBC that many PLHIVs were able to live longer.
Eunage and Meiu were in Port Moresby on their first visit for Christmas and New Year with the Rabura family at their Taurama home.
They both attend school – Eunage will do Grade 5 next year and Meiu will be in elementary prep.
But the New Year is looking gloomy for them as their grandmother is getting old and the school fees are increasing.
Rev Rabura raised the concern that villages along the Papuan coast should set up an organisation to care for their children who are orphaned through HIV/AIDS or by other circumstances. 
“Another concern I want raised is that with the LNG project soon to start, the villages there will be affected socially and physically, and it is vital that the messages get out to them before it is too late,” he said.