Patti McIntosh

(Suriname, 2005)

Working with AIDS organizations in Suriname, Patti McIntosh met a young girl with HIV/AIDS. “Maria” was sent home from school because she had an open sore. McIntosh was so moved, she wrote a book to help children deal with discrimination.

By Kate Wilson

Crossroader Patti McIntosh had never written a book before she went to Suriname, but when she saw one girl’s incredible courage in the face of discrimination she knew she had a story to tell.

While working with five different AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) in the small South American country, McIntosh met a special young girl with HIV/AIDS. “Maria” had been sent home from school because she had an open sore.

“I was so inspired by how dignified this one girl was when she had been sent home from school,” says McIntosh. “It was this small, small moment, but I thought somebody should write a book and that someone ended up being me.”

As a result of this brief meeting, she wrote The Remarkable Maria. The book tells the story of one girl’s realization that she has a disease that is not socially accepted and how, with the help of some very special women, she is able to overcome the discrimination and continue to be a remarkable little girl.

“Maria” was only one of the children McIntosh saw during her placement who was being treated unfairly because they were sick, and so Maria’s story is really the story of all of these children.

“There was a lot of discussion about whether these kids [with HIV/AIDS] should be allowed to attend school. I think it was near the end of my time there and I was kind of a bit frustrated with hearing these stories and the challenges that these agencies have to overcome,” says McIntosh. “I thought it was a story worth being told about the struggles of all these children and their bravery and dignity.”

In Suriname, five per cent of those infected with HIV/AIDS are children.

Through The Remarkable Maria, McIntosh has been able to share the story of Suriname’s children – and the special women who help them – with others. Through her work with CCI as a financing trainer, she was also able to help the five organizations – Stichting Mamio Namen Projekt (SMNP), Maxi Linder, Claudia A, PepSur, and Paarl House – become better equipped to serve people living with HIV/AIDS.

 

Crossroads International gratefully acknowledges the support of: