Last week we talked about our flagship program supporting AIDS orphans in South Africa. What an AIDS orphan can be misunderstood so we thought it would be helpful to give a quick background on what it is to be an AIDS orphan.
An ‘orphan’ is defined by the United Nations as a child who has ‘lost one or both parents’. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 15 million children under 18 have been orphaned by AIDS and around 11.6 million of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. In countries like Zambia and Botswana which are badly affected by the epidemic, 20 percent of all children are orphans – most of whom have been orphaned by AIDS.
South Africa holds the highest number of AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa with an estimated 1,400,000. And even with the expansion of antiretroviral treatment, it is estimated that this number will only continue to grow. Children orphaned by AIDS often lead a life filled with neglect, malnourishment and little hope of any future. The loss of a parent to AIDS can have serious consequences for a child’s access to basic necessities such as shelter, food, clean water, clothing, health and education. Most AIDS orphans are likely to end up in female-headed households where increasingly more people are dependent on fewer income earners, which often leads orphaned children to a life of hard work and begging to help earn income, which means they are spending very little time in a class room.
The problem of AIDS orphans may seem insurmountable. The problems in Africa itself, at times, may seem insurmountable, but they are not. This is exactly the type of problem The Positive Change Project wants to tackle. The key is finding a sustainable solution, which we believe lies in the following touch points:
- Funding support for the caretakers
- Keeping the children in school, where they can receive food and education
- Empowering the children by making them more than just victims, rather a part of the solution
- Meeting the emotional needs of the children through creating positive relationships at schools and finding stable housing environments
- Ultimately, protecting the legal and human rights of these children
Our first steps will be to partner with an HIV prevention group. But also by donations from people like you. Leveraging micro-donations from a large population is a sustainable way to keep funds flowing to AIDS orphans in Africa. It is the type of positive change that can last.
Look for more news on our first AIDS orphanage project in next week’s post.