Why You Should Dine Out for Life: Ja Mai

Our annual series, “Dine Out for My Life,” features a different local who has been affected by HIV/AIDS every day between now and Dining Out for Life (DOFL), on April 24th.

My name is … Ja Mai

What’s your Philly connection?
I am originally from Burma. I am from an ethnic group called Kachin. Philly area has a sizable community of Burmese ethnic minorities who came here mainly as refugees. I came here for college about 10 years ago. I have been living here ever since. I love this area. We have some wonderful people and places here.

What do you do for work?
I am a therapist working with children and their families.

How has HIV/AIDS affected your life?
Through my previous job as a medical case manager and volunteering in my community, I have come across many people from different backgrounds who are affected by it. Some of them are my own friends.

The biggest thing I have learned from my experience with HIV/AIDS is …
Instead of putting our efforts on questioning why one might be affected by HIV, we should put our efforts on how we can fight against it. Misinformation or lack of information continues to be a problem in our community. Discrimination for those living with HIV/AIDS continues to exist in our community. We should put our energy on learning accurate information about the virus, and how we can support each other in our fight against it. The HIV virus doesn’t discriminate anybody. Why should we?

Have a Dining Out for Life restaurant recommendation?
My favorite restaurant is Distrito. Tapas from Distrito are out of this world. I had an amazing night sharing tapas with friends while knowing we are spending our money for a great cause. Dining Out For Life gives us a variety of options – from casual and fancy restaurants to food trucks. I have always been able to find one that fits my budget.

In three words, describe the perfect dining out experience …
Good company. Good food. Good cause. I guess that is more than three words, but Dining Out For Life has all of these. It will be one of the most delicious and meaningful meals you’ve ever had.

This year’s edition of DOFL comprises 150 restaurants and a host of food trucks that will donate 33 percent of that day’s earnings to local HIV-fighting organization, ActionAIDSFor more info on participating restaurants and to make reservations, go to diningoutforlife.com/philadelphia.