Many of the children who were supported by the social support programs of New Hope for Cambodian Children were the only children in their rural village who have HIV. Camp Lotus was started in 2008 and for eight years Camp Lotus has provided these children a chance to be with and to learn from other children with HIV.
In the summer of 2016, NHCC conducted four sessions of “Camp Lotus” A total of 192 children living with HIV attended these camps and 16 “ Leaders in Training”—older children with HIV who participate in the camps as leaders and counselors.
Camp Lotus is held each year in Kampong Speu province on the site of “Our Village”.
College students recruited from universities in Phnom Penh and older children from the NHCC residential program are recruited to be camp counselors. SeriousFun, a part of the Paul Newman Foundation, provides adult counselors and training for the staff of Camp Lotus.
In the four 2016 and 2017 Camp Lotus sessions, 192 children attended camp. These children came from four of the NHCC provincial outreach programs.
During the camp sessions, the children with HIV learned about their disease, the side effects of the lifesaving antiretroviral medicines, the importance of good nutrition and hygiene and how to handle stigma and discrimination in their daily lives.
The children return to their families and village better prepared and empowered to live with HIV and for one week they had FUN in their lives.