This is the story of Andy and Maria, who were able to attend Camp Goodtime for the first time in 2012 with their daughter Maya. Andy and Maria are an Australian couple who, whilst living and working overseas, came across Maya living in a local hospital, cared for by nursing staff. Maya is HIV positive and the identity and location of Maya’s biological family were unknown. This is their story.
“We first met Maya while we were overseas, and after spending some time with her, decided we couldn’t leave without her. We knew from the outset that Maya was HIV Positive, and whilst we knew this would add some challenges we set about arranging for her to join our family. This proved to be a lengthy process which required much navigation through a complex political system, health system, bureaucracy, and immigration barriers. There was also the challenge of being so far from family and friends, and lacking social support, but finally, in 2011, we were delighted to return to Australia with Maya. She has since settled in to primary school, made lots of friends and become an integral part of our family.
Shortly after settling back here, we were fortunate enough to attend Camp Goodtime, the national camp for children and families living with HIV. Maya thoroughly enjoyed the experience, meeting lots of new friends who are in a similar position to her. It also gave us the opportunity to connect with other families living with HIV and share stories. We had the chance to attend workshops and take advantage of the fantastic programs led by some amazing volunteers. It was a wonderfully open and supportive environment.
The Sydney Children’s Hospital Paediatric HIV team and Camp Goodtime have helped our family tremendously. They have had a profoundly positive impact on our quality of life, not just from the excellent medical care they give our daughter but as importantly, from the emotional and social support they provide us. They help our whole family to get on with living life so that our daughter’s HIV status can be what it should be – only one fragment of the wonderful, inspiring person that she is.”
For more information, or to make a donation to Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, visit www.schf.org.au.