The Rampage of Disease

18 Jul

Blog post by Saundra P., Team Ethiopia 2012

An orphan is described as a vulnerable child under age 18 who has lost one or both parents. What would cause a child to lose their parents you ask? One orphan causing issue is diseases that lead to death like HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and water borne diseases. Many of these diseases are preventable.

HIV/AIDS is a worldwide epidemic, in which the largest cases, around 22.9 million, occur in Sub-Sahara Africa. AIDS is spread through child abduction, prostitution, and slavery. Orphans are especially vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS because they lack the basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. A desperate, abandoned child may turn to prostitution to provide for themselves. A poor, widowed mother may sell her child into slavery to provide for her other children.

Malaria is a disease we do not hear much about in the United States, largely because it was eliminated between 1947 and 1951. In developing countries, Malaria is a prevalent disease that puts 3.3 billion people at risk, which is about half the world’s population. About 90% of deaths caused by malaria occur in Africa among children who are less than five years of age.

Of all the orphan causing diseases, it is shocking to learn that children die due to water borne diseases. About 1.8 million people die every year from unsafe water supplies, sanitation, and hygiene. Deaths are mostly concentrated in developing countries.

Last year, while in serving with World Orphans in Haiti, I saw what disease does to an orphan. I met with widows who had lost their husbands to disease. One widow was Gilbert who lived with her 5 children in a poor, run down shack with no running water or electricity. Gilbert had lost her husband due to an illness caused by unsanitary living conditions. As a result of her husband’s death, Gilbert had no way to provide for her children. Gilbert and her children were starving and were soon going to be turned out of their home because she did not have money to pay the rent.

Saundra standing with Gilbert and four of her children, members of WO Team Haiti 2011 and the Pastor of Haitian church partner Eglise Canaan de Marin 11.

God had a plan to provide for Gilbert through World Orphans Home Based Care program. WO Home Based Care program coordinates partnerships between a western church partner and a church in a developing country to provide for widows and orphans. Three of Gilbert’s children are enrolled in the Home Based Care program. At the time of this visit our prayer was that her two boys would soon be added to the program. This program helps widows like Gilbert with a small loan to help her start a small business to be able to provide for her family. The program also helps provide needy families with water filtration systems, food, clothing, shelter and education.

When basic needs are met, orphan causing issues, like diseases, are reduced and the cycle of orphan and abandoned children is stopped. It takes just one person to make a difference in the life of an orphan. Raising awareness and funding is needed to help care for orphans and widows. Will you help me help orphans? Will you take up the cause of the fatherless and the plight of the widow in Isaiah 1:17?

Saundra resides in Florida and will be serving with Journey117 this month on Team Ethiopia.

Amfar AIDS/HIV Statistics
http://www.amfar.org/About_HIV_and_AIDS/Facts_and_Stats/Statistics__Worldwide/
Elimination of Malaria in the United States (1947 — 1951)
http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/history/elimination_us.html
World Health Organization on Malaria
http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/malaria/en/index.html      
World Health Organization on Water Health
http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases/burden/en/index.html
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