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South African in Taiwan cares for infants born to HIV-positive mothers

2012/07/04 16:24:53

Taipei, July 4 (CNA) A South African photographer living in Taiwan has for a number of years been providing a loving home environment at the weekends to infants born to Taiwanese mothers with HIV.

Tobie Openshaw, who moved to the island 15 years ago, registered along with his family with the Weekend Foster Family System organized by the Garden of Mercy Foundation four years ago to help babies, born to HIV-positive mothers who are unable to care for them, so that they can enjoy a semblance of normal family life.

In that period, Openshaw and his family have hosted a total of four infants, the first of whom was only 8 months old.

Openshaw, who currently works at the Taipei American School, said his wife and three children always look forward to taking a child home on Friday evening. Over the weekend, Openshaw said, they usually play with the child or perhaps teach it to walk and sing, before sending the youngster back to the foundation on Monday morning.

Sharing his experience of hosting children, Openshaw said that while it is fun to have a little baby to care for, one's true commitment is tested when the baby cries all night.

However, he said he always feels sad when it comes time for the children to move on to other organizations for care -- usually after a year or so.

Children should not suffer for the mistakes of their parents, he said, adding that his temporary charges plant the seeds of love in him for the next child who needs help.

Newborns are innocent and need to feel love from their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters during childhood, he said.

The number of people infected with HIV in South Africa is much higher than the figure in Taiwan, and good quality medical services provide better conditions and protection for patients here, Openshaw went on.

With the correct medication, some of the babies test "almostundetectable" for HIV, he pointed out, adding that society should open its arms to anybody who has HIV.

The foundation, which has 12 beds, provides nursing care for newborns up to the age of six months who are born to mothers with HIV.

Professional care and preventive medication are provided for these babies to help reduce the potential risks to their health and improve their quality of life.

(By Lung Jui-yun and Maia Huang)