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Great Match of Return Footages
Gaza
By Hind Khoudary
13 Apr 2018

Covering the Great March of Return since the 30th of March 2018. 
Footages from the borders near the fence, and injuries from the hospitals. 

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Thailand's Monastery of AIDS
Lopburi Province, Thailand
By Antolo
23 Feb 2015

FULL TEXT ON REQUEST
 

Text by Ana Salvá, Photos by Antolín Avezuela

A Buddhist temple in Thailand serves thousands of HIV patients abandoned by their families. Most of the families that bring their infected relatives never return to the monastery over to visit, even after death.

 

The monastery Phra Bat Nam Pu, located in Lopburi province, 150 kilometers north of Bangkok, has become the place where thousands of people affected by HIV in Thailand receive medical care. Some were abandoned there by their families and others came on their own feet. "Sometimes I would see the sick to the hospital, and in 1991 some began to come visit me here; I was an alternative for them, "says Dr. Alongkot Dikkapanya, the head monk of the monastery which today serves more than 1,500 men, women, children and orphans.

In Thailand, 440,000 people out of a population of 67 million live with HIV, according to the latest UNAIDS report on the state of the epidemic in the world. Many Thai carriers of the virus fear getting tested to see if they are infected. Access to health care in Thailand has improved over the last 35 years, as the country was one of the first to introduce free antiretroviral treatment for people with HIV, with South Africa and Cameroon, according to Doctors Without Borders.

The monastery takes care of HIV-infected patients that tend to be stigmatized by Thai society. The clinic also cares for patients with lower immunity that cannot feed themselves. Some are very weakened by the disease and cannot eat, go to the bathroom or change their own diapers. Some lie almost naked and powdered with talc as a result of the tropical heat.

"The disease weakens patients to death if they don't take their medicine," says Thong, one of the veteran’s center workers who also HIV postive. He gave a false name because he prefers to remain anonymous.

Most patients who come to the clinic have contracted AIDS as a result of having intercourse with prostitutes. Some then spread the virus to their wives. Thais generally prefer unprotected sex, according to a report by the Organization World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010.

One of the infected women living in the center, Pan, 34, sits cross-legged on her bed. She can barely speak. Pan fell ill with AIDS at the age of 19 after having sex with her ex-boyfriend. Later, she gave birth to a girl with HIV who died 11 months after birth.

"My parents divorced a while ago and the new husband of my mother brought me here. They have never come to visit me since then,” explains Pan.

Most of the patient's families never return to the monastery to visit them. Even after death.

"When new patients come, they have to check a box in a form saying what to do with their bodies when they die. Normally their families don't come to pick them up,” Thong says.

Among the options in the form, they can choose to be mummified for display in a room a few meters from the clinic. This decision is taken by the victims themselves to raise awareness about HIV's lethality.

"When we have to decide what to do with the bodies, we cremate them" says Thong.

In the windows of the room, behind the figure of a Great Buddha of black color, there are sachets containing the ashes of patients who failed to beat the disease.

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AIDS Monastery 12
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

Kitti, 46 years old, is so weakened by the disease that he must wear diapers. He became infected after having sex with his wife. He reached the temple three years ago, after the death of his wife. None of his family is taking care of him.

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AIDS Monastery 13
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

A patient trying to get outside of the building by himself.

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AIDS Monastery 14
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

On a temple inside the complex, some mummies of infected HIV patients that passed away are shown to explain the visitors how the sickness affect the human body.

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AIDS Monastery 15
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

A black statue of Buddha reigns in the middle of the temple where all the remains of the patients that passed away in the monastery are stocked.

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AIDS Monastery 16
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

After death, the bodies of the patients are incinerated and the remains are stocked all together in individual sachets behind the Buddha statue.

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AIDS Monastery 17
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

The patients have the right to decide if, after death, they want their bodies being mummified to be shown at the museum, to explain the world how HIV affects humankind.

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AIDS Monastery 01
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

Worrakit has 42 years old. He used to inject drugs and had unprotected sex. The disease has weakened him to the point of became blind. He came to the monastery three years ago because he had nowhere to go.

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AIDS Monastery 02
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

A patient on Phra Baht Nam Phu Monastery awaits the nurses who take care of him.

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AIDS Monastery 03
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

Kraison, 46 years old, became infected 10 years ago after having sex with a prostitute without protection. He arrived at the temple 2 years ago because he is not able to support himself. He lost his legs after suffering hyperglycemia when infected by HIV.

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AIDS Monastery 04
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

All the critical patients must share the same dorm. A large room loaded with hospital beds shared by the inmates and all their personal belongings.

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AIDS Monastery 05
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

A patient tries to get some rest at his bed in the middle of the main room.

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AIDS Monastery 06
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

Rachen, 58. He used to inject heroin. He was fired from his neighborhood when his neighbors realized that he was infected.

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AIDS Monastery 07
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

Pon, 48, joined the monastery seven years ago, after a routine check revealed that he had HIV. Since then he quit his family without saying a word to don't disturb them. Now he kills time on his bed drawing portraits of the founder of this center.

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AIDS Monastery 08
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

Maprod came to the temple with her mother seven months ago. Her mother got AIDS, but he was born healthy. Now he’s almost 2 years old.

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AIDS Monastery 09
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

Aman, 45. HIV affected his brain and he became deaf 5 years ago.

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AIDS Monastery 10
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

Some of the patients are so weak that can not even walk. They must wait for helpers to get rid of their bed prisons daily.

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AIDS Monastery 11
Lopburi Province
By Antolo
03 Feb 2015

The only isolated area in the whole building is a small dorm settled for tuberculosis patients, at the end of the main room.

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Donetsk Siege 024
Donetsk
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
10 Aug 2014

August 10, 2014, Donetsk, Donbass, Ukraine. A tied mother rests inside a hospital cellar after it was hit by shells. The past 24 hours have seen an increase in government attacks on the surrounded city of Donetsk, one of the last remaining strongholds still under separatists control. The civilian population has suffered the brunt of the often indiscriminate shelling. Hospitals also have been targeted by government forces, forcing the staff and the sick into cellars.

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Donetsk Siege 028
Donetsk
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 Aug 2014

August 10, 2014, Donetsk, Donbass, Ukraine. A sick older woman takes refuge inside a hospital cellar, the safest place against government attacks. The past 24 hours have seen an increase in government attacks on the surrounded city of Donetsk, one of the last remaining stronghold still under separatists control. The civilian population has suffered the brunt of these attacks, which target indiscriminately. Hospitals also have been targeted by government forces, forcing the staff and the sick into cellars.

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Medical Shortages Plague Gaza
By Sanaa Kamal , Zaher ghoul
09 Jul 2014

In Gaza, hospitals are suffering from a serious lack of medicine and medical equipment. As Israel bombs the Gaza strip, doctors and nurses from al-Shifa hospital treat the injured with the little equipment and medicine they can get their hands on. Gaza is still under an Israeli blockade.

Interviews:
1. Om Mohamed Ayash from Al Nosirat camp in the middle of Gaza
“I do not know what happened, they dropped a bomb next to the house, and two died, and my son got injured, I do not know what happened”

Interviewer:
“How old is your son?” “He is eighteen years old”

Interviewer:
“Where do you live?”

“In Sarat”

Interviewer:
Did they drop the bomb on your house or your neighbour’s house?

“They dropped it next to the house, on the ground”

Interviewer:
“Who died?”

“Two of my neighbours died. The house that got bombed is next to her house, two of her neighbours died and her son got severely injured, and they brought him to the hospital, I hope he gets well”.

  1. Abu Mahmoud
    “She is my daughter, her last name is Ayyach. Her son got injured and they brought him to the hospital. They bombed the house next to theirs and his injury is serious, his entire body was injured, and now he is in surgery.”

  2. Doctor Ashraf Aqedra - Spokesman of the Health Ministry
    “The number of martyrs received here at the hospital in Gaza over the last three days has reached 28. The last of them was just now when a child from al-Shaaf area, Mohamad Bou Ghreib, died. He was 13 years old. There have also been over 250 injuries in Gaza. The cases vary from small to medium to extremely severe but we treated them all according to the ability of Ghaza hospitals. The severity of damage and injuries that are occurring clearly indicates that the weapons used by Israel are untraditional and definitely internationally banned and this requires the international community to act.” “Now we are at risk, due to a 30% lack in medical supplies, and 55% of medical equipment, especially the equipment used in emergencies, intensive care and surgery.” “We might not be able to provide medical services over the next few days and the health department is going to witness many problems if we do not receive medical aid from the concerned parties, especially the Red Cross, the UN, and all other humanity related organizations."

  3. A man from Al Dohar family who had their house bombed by Israeli jets in Al Shejaeia neighborhood
    “We were sitting and suddenly a missile dropped on us. 7 houses were destroyed, all full of children, women and the elderly. We took them to hospital but there are no medications or equipment to treat them, or even treat the children.” “Where are all the Arab countries? Where are all the people with conscience? Aren’t they watching people dying everyday? Nobody cares about us.” “Abu Mazen yesterday did an interview with an Israeli. Their children are precious and ours are not precious? They die everyday on the streets. Where are the presidents and the countries? Where are the Muslims?
    Here is a martyr child just as we speak, look.”

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hearts of zimbabwe 17
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
10 Jun 2014

Joe Machipisa, 17, and Perseverance Kambanje, 16 (with the blue cap) in Mutoko at the Luisa Guidotti Hospital, after a blood test.

The boys are drawing blood for follow up checks after both receiving treatment for their congenital heart conditions in Italy.

Follow ups are an ongoing, costly, but necessary process needed to help ensure the ultimate success of the surgeries.

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hearts of zimbabwe 19
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
09 Jun 2014

Dr. Massimo Migani, Medical Superintendent and Dental Surgeon treats a patient with a dental problem at the Luisa Guidotti Mission Hospital in Mutoko. Zimbabwe.

Dr Massimo Migani helps with the coordination of the activities and relationships among stakeholders involved implementing the heart surgery exchange program with Italy.

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hearts of zimbabwe 18
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
09 Jun 2014

Dr Massimo Migani, Medical Superintendent (left), Marilena Pesaresi, former Medical Superintendent now Hospital Executive Advisory Member (centre), and Lucia Grassi, catholic lay missionary, meet at the Luisa Guidotti Mission Hospital, in Mutoko. Zimbabwe.

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hearts of zimbabwe 01
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
05 Jun 2014

Douglas Mudavanhu, 3, with his mother Yennifer in the village of Manyonga, in the Goromonzi District.

Douglas was operated on in 2013 at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna because of a complex congenital heart disease (Atrioventricular canal, interventricular defect and atrioventricular block). He now has a pacemaker and needs to do follow ups twice a year.

Douglas will need to return to Italy in the future so doctors can assess his current pacemaker and consider a possible substitute. The village where he lives is isolated, but there is hope for him to go to school in the future. Douglas' father, Edmore, has a farm and he makes sure his son eats fresh vegetables all year round and a sufficient amount of protein by raising chickens.

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hearts of zimbabwe 05
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
05 Jun 2014

Tanatswa Oliver Chikomwe, 7, with his friend Fana in Mabyuko, in a suburb of Hahare.

Tanatswa was operated on in 2012 at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna (condition: severe aortic insufficiency and impaired left ventricular function. Aortic valve replacement).

While the operation was successful, he will probably have to undergo a second operation and will require follow-up appointments every two years.

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hearts of zimbabwe 06
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
05 Jun 2014

Christopher Chirinda, 7, outside his house in the city of Ruwa.

Operated on in 2007 while he was only four months old, Christopher had a successful surgery that treated his congenital heart defect. The surgery was performed at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna. He will require follow up every three years.

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hearts of zimbabwe 08
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
05 Jun 2014

Melody Mutero, 17 years old, in the village of Muchatuta, Goromonzi District.

Melody was operated in October 2013 at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna. 4 months in Italy.

Melody takes part in the I.N.R. program and has two check-ups per year. In the distant future she will have to change the replacement valve she was given in her initial surgery.

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hearts of zimbabwe 04
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
04 Jun 2014

Tadiwa Kataza, 10, in his bedroom in Takudzwa, Chinhoyi city.

Tidiwa was operated on in 2011 at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna (where he stayed a total of seven months. Condition: congenital heart disease, Tetralogy of Fallot).

He underwent two other operations in 2012, one at the Ceccharini Hospital in Riccione, and the other at the Infermi Hospital in Rimini.

In total, Tadiwa lost a year of schooling to the operations. However, all of his major health problems were resolved successfully. Once a year, he returns to the Luisa Guidotti Hospital for follow-ups on his heart and eyes.

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hearts of zimbabwe 16
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
04 Jun 2014

Dylon Mberemgwa, 4, with his collection of toys in the Murombedzi District.

Operated on in 2012 at the Hesperia Hospital in Modena, his surgery was sponsored by the Provincial Administration of Emilia Romagna (3 and a half months in Italy).

He lives partly in the neighborhood of the police station where his mother works, and partly in their house in the village. The family is very resourceful: they perform various farming tasks, raising different kinds of animals and cultivating various plants. Dylon lives with his brothers and parents.

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hearts of zimbabwe 13
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
03 Jun 2014

Tariro Johan Kangoni, 4, in Harare.

Teriro was operated on in April 2011 at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna (3-4 months in Italy). He suffered from a congenital heart disease, known as patent Botallo ductus arteriosus.

He requires follow up every two years.

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hearts of zimbabwe 14
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
03 Jun 2014

Salvador Bones, 7, in Harare, doing cartwheels with his brother Sinclair.

Salvador was operated on in 2011 at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna (Condition: Congenital cardiopathy, Tetralogy of Fallot).

Salvador's condition made him too weak to walk because he had such a low saturation of oxygen in his bloodstream. Both of his parents are unemployed and the family is supported by his grandmother. However, the surgery provided in Italy means that Salvador is now able to live an active and relatively normal life.

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hearts of zimbabwe 15
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
03 Jun 2014

Tanaka Matengarufu, 9, in her room in Harare.

Operated on in 2012 at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna, Tanaka spent 6 months in Italy. She suffered from a complex circulatory illness that inflamed her arteries. She required Angioplasty among other specialized treatments.

Tanaka still has high blood pressure and requires specific ongoing medical therapy and in all probability, more invasive surgeries.

The family (with four children) survives only on the father's wage earned from selling phone charge cards (on average he sells 100 per day with a profit of 8 cents per sale).

Current medical therapy is only able to continue through external help. They share a house built in an illegal zone that is at risk of being demolished.

Tanaka's stay in Italy meant that her sister, 12 years old, missed a year of school looking after her little brother. Her sister had to take over the responsibility from her mother, who was accompanying Tanaka on her trip to Italy.

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hearts of zimbabwe 11
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
02 Jun 2014

Bradley Matavire, 6, on a neighbor's swing in the city of Chitungwiza.

Operated on in 2011, at the Hesperia Hospital in Modena (Condition: interventricular defect), his surgery was sponsored by the Provincial Administration of Emilia Romagna.

An only child, Bradley lives with his father, his father's new wife, and his maternal grandmother. His father is the only breadwinner.

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hearts of zimbabwe 12
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
02 Jun 2014

Ruth Mugambiza, 5, with her favorite teddy bear in the city of Chitungwiza.

Ruth was operated on in March 2010, at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna (3-4 months in Italy) due an interventricular defect (congenital heart disease). She requires follow-up every three years.

She has two older brothers and her father works selling handicrafts.

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hearts of zimbabwe 02
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
01 Jun 2014

Diana Chiwara, 16, in front of the Mutoko All Souls Mission and school.

Diana was operated on in 2012 at the Niguarda Hospital in Milan. (Procedure: Substitution of the mitral valve with mechanical prosthesis)

Diana is taking part in the I.N.R. program (with monthly monitoring of her blood and medicine). As well as the I.N.R. program, she also has two check-ups per year. She comes from Harare, but she chose the school at All Souls because it is closer to the hospital.

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hearts of zimbabwe 03
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
01 Jun 2014

Elvis Antonio Nashu, 17, in front of a former tobacco kiln at his village of Maramba, Murewa district.

Elvis was operated on in September 2005 at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna.

While the operation was successful, Elvis suffers from respiratory failure, which needs to be kept under control for at least four to five years. As an orphan, he lives with his grandmother and two maternal aunts. He lives in a very isolated village. He sleeps in a room also used as a granary.

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Heart of Africa: Saving Zimbabwe's Ch...
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
31 May 2014

Elvis was the first to be operated. Born with heart disease, Elvis had scarce hopes for survival in his own country – Zimbabwe. In 2005, at only 8 years old, he made a trip to Italy with newfound hope. His destination was Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna.  A team of specialized surgeons was waiting for him at the pediatric cardiology unit. The operation was successful and Elvis was saved. After a few weeks rest in hospital, he returned to Zimbabwe.

Nine years later, in June 2014, photographer Giovanni Diffidenti left for Zimbabwe with the aim of meeting Elvis, now 17, and other children like him born with heart disease and saved/rescued by the intervention of a cardiology unit in Italy. To meet them, Diffidenti traveled deep in the Zimbabwean countryside, to impoverished villages lacking proper medical facilities. 

Despite the hard living conditions the children find themselves in, these images transmit a serenity that shows in their facial expressions and smiles. These children were once quite sick before their operation, without energy and destined to slowly die. They now live a normal childhood and adolescence full of energy and dreams of the future. Happy to have their photograph taken, revealing something personal of their character, tastes and sometimes their dreams. The children’s surgery was part of the “Save the Children’s Heart” program, which is an initiative by the Italian “Mission Bambini” Foundation (www.missionbambini.org). The program has rescued more than 1,000 children with heart disease from developing countries.

This objective was attained thanks to the work of voluntary Italian doctors organized abroad and equipment and machinery donated to local hospitals. In Zimbabwe, the Foundation collaborates with the “Luisa Guidotti” Hospital situated in Mutoko (200km east of the capital Harare), which is run by Italian doctor Maria Elena Pesaresi.

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hearts of zimbabwe 09
Harare, Zimbabwe
By Giovanni Diffidenti
31 May 2014

Evidence Katyio (left), 19, with her friend Marvelous Maremera, 14, in the village of Chapfika, Mutoko District.

Operated on in 2002 at the age of 7, at the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna, Evidence had a valve replaced in her heart. She underwent a second operation in 2013 at the same hospital.

Evidence lives at her father's friend's place to go to school. Her village is 40 km away. Re-integration after her trip to Italy was problematic as she had gotten used to the material comforts of life in Italy.