Sub-Saharan Africa Statistics:
Twenty-five years ago, AIDS was unknown to Africa. Unfortunately, today AIDS is plaguing sub-Saharan Africa, as the number one deadly disease, surpassing malaria. Sub-Saharan Africa has only over 10% of the world’s population, but it has 68% of all people infected with the HIV virus and has the highest proportion of AIDS cases. The continual loss of working age parents has resulted in an overwhelming number of orphans in Africa. It is estimated that the AIDS orphans problem will only continue to grow in the coming years, reaching 15.7 million by 2010.
- AIDS Cases: 22.5 million
- AIDS Orphans: over 12 million
AIDS orphans are becoming a big problem for Africa because in most cases, they go to live with their relatives. As a result, extended families are over-extended and thrown deeper into poverty. Not surprisingly, orphans suffer from malnutrition and are less likely to receive an education than non-orphans. They face discrimination because others erroneously fear that they will catch the disease through touch or breath. African AIDS orphans are often forced into dangerous situations. Without a guardian, they often resort to begging, stealing, and prostitution on the street and are more likely to be exploited.
There are several reasons why the epidemic is plaguing sub-Saharan Africa in particular, including conflict, lack of funding, and cultural practices. Historically, African government leaders have been slow to respond to the mounting crisis. At least 30 African countries are involved in some sort of conflict, so the government either is not able or chooses not to deal with the AIDS orphans situation. In refugee camps, many women are so poor that they will trade sex for food. In addition, rape is more common during times of war and social instability, which perpetuates HIV/AIDS. Economically, African countries, like most developing countries, simply lack the money necessary to fight the disease and to fund prevention efforts such as sex education, encouragement of condom use, and testing and counseling. Most AIDS cases occur in the poorest communities, so many families even struggle to pay for basic necessities, let alone, medical costs. Lastly, African culture encourages unsafe sex practices, including multiple partners and female genital mutilation (which may lead to HIV/AIDS because the excision instruments used are not sterilized). Also, traditional social practices are helping the spread of AIDS. For example, it is African custom that when a husband dies, his brother is to marry his wife to ensure family’s wellbeing. If the husband had AIDS and passed it on to his wife, then the brother would also contract AIDS. Unfortunately, the HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphan epidemic is propagated because of these political, social, and economic causes.
Southern Africa – Virgin Cure and Infant Rape
35% of all people with HIV
Southern Africa currently is the country with the highest prevalence of AIDS and thus, AIDS orphans. In addition to the fear of receiving treatment due to discrimination and male cultural pride against condom use, the belief in Virgin Cure and Infant Rape has perpetuated the number of AIDS cases in Southern Africa. Virgin Cure and Infant Rape is the belief that having sex with a virgin or infant will prevent or cure HIV/AIDS. As a result, as many as 60 children a day are raped ruthlessly in South Africa
AHOPE For Children – Ethiopia
AHOPE Ethiopia, originally known as ENAT HIV Children’s Center, began when Adoption Advocates International (AAI) started offering adoption services in Ethiopia. There was a lack of orphanages for the number of orphans in Ethiopia; therefore, AAI established the Layla House in Addis Abba, the capital of Ethiopia, to care for these children. At the Layla House, every child is tested for HIV. Because one out of six children test positive, the AAI decided to also create a second orphanage for HIV positive orphans.
In the two homes, AHOPE cares for 60 HIV positive children. They hope to expand their facility to care for 100 children in the future. They school children at the orphanage because normally these children would be ostracized because of their condition. One can support AHOPE for Children by either donating money directly to the organization on their website or signing up to sponsor a child.
Nyaka AIDS Orphans School – Uganda, East Africa
The Nyaka AIDS Orphans school officially opened on January 2, 2003 for the orphans in the village of Nyakagyezi. The mission of the school is to provide AIDS orphans with a free education and extracurricular activities to help pull these kids out of hunger, poverty, and systematic deprivation. By the end of 2008, the school will have seven classes and a full primary school. The Nyaka AIDS Orphans School also offers vocational programs and scholarships for secondary education.
In addition to schooling, the Nyaka AIDS Orphans School also provides services to the community. Their school also includes several other programs; for example, they have a Community AIDS Outreach Program, a Health and Physical Education Program (which teaches hygiene and sanitation), Bible Studies, and the Nyaka Grannies Program (which helps support the households). One can assist with their endeavors by donating on their website.
The Gwaimen Center – Nigeria
The Gwaimen Center is a self-sufficiency center for AIDS orphans and widows. The center was incorporated in March 2006. Their goals are aimed at self-sufficiency to provide opportunity. In addition to spreading awareness of the epidemic, they empower widows by providing education ranging from nutrition to job skill training, so that they can care for themselves.
The Nigeria center currently cares for 50 AIDS orphans by giving them a place to live, education, and three meals a day. However, they still need financial assistance to care for more orphans, widows, and provide treatment for people who are HIV-positive. One can donate directly to the organization on their website.
Khulani AIDS Orphange – South Africa
Khulani AIDS Orphanage was founded in 1998 and currently provides care to 20 orphaned children. The children’s ages range from 9 and 17 years old, and many of them were abused or neglected before coming to the Khulani Children Center. Their center depends on both local and international funds. They are especially dependent on Shoes South Africa Charitable Trust. Shoes South Africa has invited its customers since 2002 to see the shelter to encourage donations. One can help the shelter through sending donations to the address on their website and sponsoring a child.
A Ugandan boy who lost his mother to AIDS at age 12 and his father at age 16
“When Mother was sick, it was us who were looking after her. . . . I left school for one term and then went back. Then my sister left school for one term, and we traded back and forth like that. But even when I was in school, it was not good, because my mind was back with my mother, and it was not easy to concentrate on my studies.”
A Ugandan boy who was orphaned at age 8 and received services from TASO, The AIDS Service
“My classmates, they knew my parents had died, they caused problems for me. I was segregated. I was known as ‘The son of AIDS,’ and teachers and students would call me ‘TASO Child.’ . . . When we were sharing desks, the kids wouldn’t want to sit next to me. . . . It would be terribly hurtful as a child to be called ‘TASO Child.’ It was only name-calling, no physical abuse, but still.”
A Kenyan girl who lost her mother to HIV/AIDS when she was seventeen and was forced to take care of her four siblings
“It was very difficult, because there was a lot of stigma. People would say we were suffering because our mother was promiscuous, that’s why she died. Our neighbors disliked us and didn’t listen to anything we said. When our mother was sick, they wouldn’t even pass by the door or come into our house. At school, the kids knew my mother was sick but we never told them she had HIV. When she died, we just left school immediately. I didn’t even find it important to stay. Even if they had let me stay free of charge, I still needed to go and find odd jobs so I could feed the family and pay the rent.”
A South African girl, describing how she was treated by her aunt after losing her mother to HIV/AIDS at age fifteen
“I didn’t have time to sit and study at home, because I was always working. I wasn’t even allowed to turn on the light late at night. I didn’t have time to concentrate on my studies. I had to wake up at 5:00 a.m. for school, and it was an hour’s walk. I went to a different school from my aunt’s kids. They were already in school when I arrived, so I had to register myself. My aunt just didn’t want me going to school.”