Today we spent the afternoon at Wat Phrabaht Namphu AIDS Hospice and Treatment Center. It was located about 30 minutes outside of the city and is a place for people who have HIV and AIDS to live and receive treatment. A Wat is a Buddhist temple, so in addition to having a hospital facility and private living cottages, there was also a large temple and ten monks living on the grounds. We started our tour at the center's museum, which contained not only the mummified bodies of patients who had passed and donated their bodies to the center, but also the unclaimed ashes of patients. Many families do not want their family's ashes because they believe they are still infected. Part of the center's goal is to help reduce the stigma and false beliefs associated with HIV and AIDS.
We were able to walk through the center's hospital facility, which was nothing like our hospitals at home. The patients were all in an open room with no privacy. Most of the patients staying in this part of the center were bedridden and spent most of their time in the large open room. Despite this, we were greeted with smiles and wais, which is equivalent to our hand wave. It was an amazing experience to see a health care facility unlike anything we have seen in America.