Art therapy a confidence-booster for AIDS orphans

By Lu Na
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, November 9, 2010
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Hong Kong charity the Chi Heng Foundation is hosting an art exhibition in Beijing to raise public awareness of the problems facing children impacted by HIV/AIDS. The exhibition opened at the Yang Gallery on November 8.

Mr. Chung To, the founder of CHF, talks about the charity's art therapy program. 

In the 1990s, many peasants in central China were driven by poverty to start selling their blood. But many of the blood collection stations were illegal and used unsanitary methods. The result was soaring rates of HIV infections – reaching 60 percent in many villages. By 2010, according to Xinhua, there were more than a quarter of a million AIDS orphans in China. Although most are not infected themselves, they often face a life of poverty, supporting sick relatives and facing prejudice and discrimination. Many become psychologically disturbed.

The mission of the Chi Heng Foundation (CHF) is to provide comprehensive care and support to AIDS impacted children in China. One of their most important tasks is providing counseling and education.

Every year since 2005, CHF has organized a summer camp for around a thousand children. The camps organize activities intended to broaden the children's vision, build their self-esteem and foster psychological healing. One of the most important activities is art therapy. Painting and drawing allows the children to express thoughts and feelings they may not be able to put into words.

Dr. Nwe Nwe Aye of the UNAIDS China Office gives her speech at the art exhibition in Beijing.

"Helping children develop art skills and encouraging them to express their feelings and hopes through art is an excellent channel of providing psychosocial support. These drawings certainly strengthen children's confidence, self esteem and sense of security," said Dr. Nwe Nwe Aye, of the UNAIDS China Office.

"Art therapy is one of the most important components of our psychotherapy program," said Mr. Chung To, the founder of CHF. "This exhibition shows the achievement of our summer camp art counseling program. We believe that a lot of children who find it difficult to talk about their feelings can express themselves through art and writing, and ease their sorrow and pain."

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