They did not get to choose….

1 Jun

Blog post by Stephanie J, Team Uganda 2011

They did not get to choose….

They did not get to chose to watch their parents die a slow a painful death.  They did not get a choice in becoming an orphan.  Their childhood has been stolen from them.  These children orphaned by AIDS do not have a voice loud enough or strength strong enough to fight for themselves but we do!

UNICEF 2009 statistics estimate that 1.2 million children (0-17 years) in Uganda have been left orphaned due to the AIDS.  UNAIDS 2007 statistics estimate that 12 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa have lost one or both of there parents to AIDS.  AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa account for 37% of parental loss from all causes (Richter, 2008; UNAIDS, 2008*) [1]

Not only has the AIDS epidemic left children orphaned, poor, hungry, and vulnerable but it has also left a majority of them infected with AIDS.  Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 90% of the global population of children under the age of 15 that are affected by AIDS.  UNAIDS 2009 statistics show there are 2.3 million children living with AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. This number has increased from the estimated 1.8 million in 2001. [2]

What we don’t see is the damaging social and economical cycle this epidemic is causing.  AIDS is not only taking lives but is crippling the sociological and economical status of societies already affected by endemic poverty and food insecurity.  AIDS affects the fittest and the workforce, leaving behind the children and the elderly.  Extended family members not infected with AIDS are left to absorb the cost of caring for those with AIDS and providing their children.   When the average income for a family in Sub-Saharan Africa is less than $1,000 a year, the cost of taking on dying family members and their children results in an extended family members income extremely stretched.  In most cases families members cannot afford to take care of the orphaned children and are given away to local orphanages.[3]

Those children without extended family members are left to care for their dying parent(s), siblings and themselves.  With no money coming in, already living in extreme poverty, these children have no choice but to quit school, take care of their parents and find a way to make money in order to pay for food and healthcare for their dying parent(s).  With no education, underage and in desperate need of money, orphaned children turn to exploitation, begging to earn what little money they can.  Sexually exploited girls then become AIDS/HIV-infected mothers themselves, who then die from the AIDS/HIV virus leaving behind their orphaned children.  In Sub-Saharan Africa the number of women infected with AIDS is greater than the number of men with AIDS.[4]  Community/Non-profit organizations involvement and AIDS awareness/education are becoming more active in these societies that have been invaded by the AIDS, which has slowed down the progression of this epidemic but it has not stopped it.

Stephanie currently lives in Atlanta, GA and attends Passion City Church.

[1]  Home Truths: The Global Response to Children Affected by AIDS: Where Have We gone Wrong?. JLICA 2009; p 11, 21-23.

[2] [Source: UNAIDS, Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, 2010.]: Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, 2010.    UNAIDS; ch 2 pg 26.

[3] Home Truths. The Global Response to Children Affected by AIDS: Where Have We gone Wrong? JLICA 2009; p 21-23.

[4] Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, 2010. UNAIDS; Ch 2 pg 25.


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