Returning to Thailand for HIV work

Former Dunedin residents Kenneth Fleck (39) and wife Kim (42) and daughters Jenna (13) and Shani ...
Former Dunedin residents Kenneth Fleck (39) and wife Kim (42) and daughters Jenna (13) and Shani (10) are returning to Southeast Asia to work with community leaders to help them better understand HIV. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Former Dunedin resident Kenneth Fleck (39) is no stranger to helping people.

He worked in the intensive care unit at Dunedin Hospital before completing a master of philosophy degree at AUT and Laidlaw College in Auckland, on the cross-cultural gaps in HIV care.''

For the past four years, I've been living that thesis.''

He and his wife Kim Fleck (42) and their two daughters Jenna (13) and Shani (10) moved to Thailand in July 2009 and returned to New Zealand in June to promote their Thailand experience.

The Fleck family began their journey back to Thailand on New Year's Day and would arrive in Chiang Mai, the second biggest city in Thailand, on January 10, Mr Fleck said.''

When we bought the tickets to go back, the girls were dancing around the room.''

They have been working for Sim, a Christian non-governmental organisation, to build trust with religious and community leaders in Thailand by providing them with tools to help people living with HIV and Aids.

The work was not about imposing models on locals but more about listening to the needs of the community, Mr Fleck said.

Mrs Fleck taught preschool English in Thailand and their daughters attended an International School.

The five-tone Thai language and the heat were the most challenging things about living in Thailand, he said.

At a glance

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids), a condition in humans in which failure of the immune system allows infections and cancers to thrive.

In New Zealand, 3000 people are living with HIV. In 2012, there were 81 new cases.

In Thailand, two people an hour acquired HIV and about half of those living with the virus are youth.

In Thailand, the virus was mostly transmitted by sexual intercourse and intravenous drug use.


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