AIDS orphans in southern Africa belong to one of the fastest growing groups of children in need on earth.
Every 14 seconds a child will become an orphan. While you are reading this, another 3 – 5 children will be made vulnerable or orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS.
Most of the 15 million children orphaned by AIDS worldwide, live in economically weak countries, the vast majority of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. (1)
In South Africa, a country of around 47 million, an estimated 5.7 million have HIV.
Everyday, an average of 1,000 people die from AIDS and AIDS-related conditions. The number of orphans in South Africa grew to 1.4 million at the end of 2007 from 780,000 at the end of 2003. (2)
That means that together with the effects of poverty an estimated 500 children a day became orphans.
Furthermore, in a 12 year span, the incidence of HIV among pregnant women has multiplied more than seven times, from an estimated 4.3 percent in 1993 to 30.2 percent in 2005. Most children born to HIV AIDS-infected women develop the condition themselves.(3) The situation is even worse in Zimbabwe.
This further accentuates the plight of the AIDS orphans, homeless children and other children in need as they live not only without the love of their parents, but with a potentially life-threatening disease.
So what hope is there for an AIDS orphan?
These children face lives of extreme hardship but they have not all been completely abandoned. There are many hardworking individuals and organisations in South Africa who have understood the need and responded with energy.
Jabulani Khakibos Boys, Ten Thousand Homes, Oasis International, Tswane Place of Safety and Vuselela Communty Centre are just a sprinkling of those that represent the commitment and dedication of those working to provide love, shelter, education and food for these children in need.
The scale of the sadness, grief and hardship these children suffer should be enough to motivate not just the children’s charities working so hard to reduce the impact of this tragedy, but each one of us to find a way to help.
Sources:(1) SOS Children’s villages(2) Avert.org(3)