When Mae was brought to us, this child was just five kilos of tendons, skin and bones. She was already a year and three months old, and we imagined she only had another fortnight to live. She crapped blood and didn't even have the strength to suckle. Her shrunken skin made us believe that inside her liver and kidneys were only dry cores.

I photographed her a lot because I promised myself to make a legend of her. To return to that child a second life, a virtual life. I would follow her to her coffin and by some auto-executable files, I would circulate her from site to site around the internet.

Mae refused to die.

She went on for months. I started to wonder about a medical detail: she had never had candidiasis of the mouth, yet all AIDS patients get that once their CD4 falls below 200. Without a lab I could only assume her to be an exception to the rule.One of the workers innocently mentioned to me that she liked soya milk. It suddenly occurred to me that maybe Mae was not dying of AIDS but of a milk malabsorbtion problem. I forbade normal milk and a miracle occurred. She got fat so quickly that we could almost see it happening.

It became necessary for her to leave the ward. Having become strong I was afraid the microbes she was exposed to would eat greedily away at her vulnerable immune system. Only a few weeks earlier we had lost an asymptomatic chubby little boy who had stayed in the ward for only a few hours owing to lack of carers. He left the ward on my urgent request. Too late, he died a few hours later of an aggressive pulmonary infection. Having left the ward, no one had time to realise the severity of his state and I was not called.

It was necessary for Mae to leave the hospice. I already knew that it would be an arduous struggle; all the workers and patients adored her! The visitors got attached to her, a Chinese visitor had offered a small, pretty, hand crafted and colourful coffin that had been waiting for her by the entrance for some weeks. A glass coffin was also ready for her…I asked around, here and there and finally came across a German charity's fighter who was dealing only with HIV-positive children. It was decided, and Mae left alive! She was to receive the most expensive treatments that, maybe, would pull her out of the gutter indefinitely.

I told one of the westerners present that day that the child had been saved, but, that before long there would certainly be more. It is necessary for a child to pay with her body, to please of God, who I like less and less…The following day another baby arrived at the ward. The beautiful coffin would not be useless after all. Unless…(...)









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