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Learn More About The Remarkable Maria


The Remarkable Maria takes place in the capital city of Suriname called Paramaribo. Suriname is in the northeast corner of South America and shares borders with Guyana, Brazil, French Guiana – and the North Atlantic Ocean.

Suriname is an amazing and spirited country with a population of about 440,000. It has a richly multicultural population: Hindustani, Creole, Javanese, Maroon, Amerindian, Chinese and European. The food is wonderful! (Especially the roti.)

Suriname is former colony of the Netherlands. Dutch is the official language but other languages are spoken, including English and Sranang Tongo (which is sometimes called Taki Taki).

Suriname is a developing country. Approximately, 70% of the population lives below the poverty line. The poverty line is a complicated measurement of financial well-being. But it can mean that the people under that line do not have the resources to buy all the essential things needed to live a healthy life.


We know HIV/AIDS is a very large problem in the developing world. The number of children impacted by HIV/AIDS is enormous. To date, 14 million children around the world have been orphaned. That is 45% of the population of Canada. Imagine that!

In Suriname, in the past ten years, there has been an accelerated increase in new cases of HIV. The number of new cases has grown by four times since 2000.

Suriname has what is called a “generalized epidemic” – which means it is no longer limited to specific groups. It has impacted that entire population – men, women and children. Indeed, more women than men are infected (49% of those infected are women) and 5% of those infected are children.


The Remarkable Maria


Maria is one of those children. The Remarkable Maria, is told through Maria’s eyes – and recalls her carefree dream of singing and dancing on her favourite television program, Babbel Box. Her story also recalls a time in her young life when there were many sad changes and she had to learn to faceproblems she didn’t fully understand.

Maria introduces us to the wonderful characters that surround her: her little sister Willie, who she must parent while their mother is dying, Mrs. MacKenzie, their concerned neighbour who always has an eye out for them – and Mrs. De Groot, the caregiver at the orphanage, who has a house full of children but
enough love in her heart for two more. Plus their dog.



Willie is a healthy, mischievous and curious little girl –
who wants to see everything and be everywhere Maria is.

Willie is not infected with HIV. There are many reasons why one child in a family is infected and the other is not. If the mother is aware of her health status, steps can be taken to minimize the risk of transmission of HIV to her children.




Pietr, Maria and Willie’s dog, is one of the favourite characters in the story. It is through Pietr, and his puppy siblings, coming to visit that the children meet Mrs. MacKenzie. He is always appearing in places that make the children laugh.

Mrs. MacKenzie, Mrs. De Groot, Dr. De Jong

In the developing world, the much of burden resulting from the epidemic falls to women.

Mrs. MacKenzie, Mrs. De Groot, Dr. De Jong are representative of the many strong women who work to ease the crisis.

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