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Jiayi shared with us today the letter from Uncle Choon Kiat, father of her late friend Ethel.
Thank you Uncle Choon Kiat for your letter – we send you our love and prayers and we wait for a world restored, and hope for the kin-dom of God to be on this earth where no one would be stigmatised and discriminated against because of their HIV status, or because of who they are. A world where there are no more voices passing judgement but only compassion and love.
My name is Choon Kiat. Thank you for allowing Jiayi to share her story. I am sorry I couldn’t be there personally. Even after 8 years, it is still difficult for me to talk about Ethel.
My daughter was a kind and loving person. She loved animals and young children. I wish all of you had a chance to meet her but she was called to God early. Losing her was the hardest thing I had to go through. The grief has lessen but it will always remain. I still think about her every day and I still wonder if there was more I could have done to protect her.
If you are listening to this as someone who is living with HIV, I pray that you never give up. Your diagnosis is not a death sentence. No matter what you think of yourself or how society sees you, you are a worthy person. There are people who will love you as you are and you won’t have to look far. Be brave.
To everyone else, regardless if you know anyone who is HIV+, I urge you to open your arms and hearts. I may have lost my daughter to the stigma of HIV, but it ends there. We don’t have to lose anymore. As a community, we need to talk about HIV more. We need to educate ourselves, then others, and we need to show compassion. Our voices have to be louder than those passing judgement.
Thank you for being a part of this year’s World AIDS Day.