At first glance, there’s nothing particularly special about the Hospital of Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) in Samosir Regency in North Sumatra. But a separate building at HKBP is home to 11-year-old Viktor, 10-year-olds Elfrida and Akmaria, six-year-old Maria and three-year-old Robet*. Their faces shine with excitement as they welcome New Naratif, and they run around like most other children their age. Behind the cheerfulness of their innocent faces, though, is a difficult reality that makes their lives very different from their peers.

All five children are orphans living with HIV, currently under the care of the local HKBP AIDS Committee. Their caregiver, Eni Verawati Simanjuntak, tells New Naratif that the children had contracted HIV from their parents. They’ve all come from different parts of North Sumatra, but are now bound together by the fact that their relatives and communities have rejected them.

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Teguh Harahap is a freelance writer and translator based in Medan, Indonesia. Previously he worked as the editor of Koran Kindo, a weekly newspaper for Indonesian migrant workers based in Hong Kong.

Nadiyah is a freelance illustrator/comic artist based in Bandung, Indonesia. With her growing passion for visual storytelling, she makes art which is close to heart. Her works can be found at or instagram @nadiyahrs. Reach her at