Tuesday early afternoon

LAMPLAIMAT, July 17 – Those who frequent the center for AIDS- and HIV-affected people here do not look sick because the center keeps them up to date on medication – and renews their enthusiasm for life.

“Before, they wait for the day to die. Now they have a meaning for life,” the center’s director told us.

Even the name of the center, Celebrate the King Center, suggests hope. The center, the largest of PDA’s Positive Partnership Program (PPP), provides a home base for the 40 PPP pairs in Lamplaimat. PPP lends to people living with HIV and AIDS and their HIV-negative business partners as incentives to work together to improve their economic situations and to reduce HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.

The average initial loan size here is 24,000 baht. The repayment rate of 75 to 80 percent is lower than the average microloan because some borrowers succumb to their illnesses before they can fully repay their loans, an unfortunate reality in this line of work.

The center provides information on HIV/AIDS and business advice, mostly to women and mostly to people with no prior business experience. Its target population mirrors, and in some cases overlaps, ours, so we’re adjusting our curriculum based on what works for the center. For example, we learned that because our target population balks at theoretical learning, even our pedagogical approach of telling short, contrasting stories is not interactive enough. As a result, we are reworking some of our lessons into skits that students can perform.

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