A former South African photographer living in Taiwan has for a number of years been providing a loving home on the weekends to infants born to Taiwanese mothers with HIV.
Tobie Openshaw, who moved to Taiwan 15 years ago, registered along with his family at the Weekend Foster Family System, organized by the Garden of Mercy Foundation to help babies born to HIV-positive mothers who are unable to care for them, so that they can enjoy a semblance of normal family life.
In the ensuing four years, Openshaw and his family have hosted a total of four infants, the first of whom was only eight months old.
Openshaw, who works at the Taipei American School, said his wife and three children always look forward to taking a child home on Friday evening. Over the weekend, Openshaw said, they usually play with the child or perhaps teach the child to walk and sing, before sending the youngster back to the foundation on Monday morning.
He said he always feels sad when the time comes for the children to move on to other organizations for care — usually after a year or so.
Children should not suffer for the mistakes of their parents, he said, adding that his temporary charges plant the seeds of love in him for the next child who needs help.
Newborns are innocent and need to feel love from their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters during childhood, he said.
The number of people infected with HIV in South Africa is much higher than that in Taiwan, which has high-quality medical services and can provide better conditions and protection for patients, Openshaw said.
With the correct medication, some of the babies test “almost undetectable” for HIV, he said, adding that society should open its arms to anybody who has HIV.
The foundation, which has 12 beds, provides nursing care for newborns up to the age of six months who are born to mothers with HIV.