Tuesday’s Child: AIDS + Children = :(

Posted: December 1, 2008 in Uncategorized

aidsorphans_header

600,000 in Zambia

1,200,000 in Uganda

970,000 in Tanzania

1,400,000 in South Africa

The numbers of children left parentless by AIDS rolls upward and onward.  It’s tragic and we all know it, but it seems so overwhelming that it’s hard to even open the door to compassion, lest you find yourself overthrown by it…caught in a landslide of need with a only spoon to use as a shovel.

That’s how I have felt recently.  Since launching the Amani Life Project, I have received emails from many people in other countries, hoping that we could help send a girl in their area to college.  Oh, how I would love to say a resounding and exuberant YES to every single one.  Every single one.

But I am learning that just because I can’t do everything, doesn’t mean I can’t do somethingSomething big.  And real.  And significant.  And lifechanging.

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day.  While it may sound like a disease-of-the-week awareness day, it’s actually a day that speaks directly to the plight of the orphaned child.  In Zimbabwe, 77% of all orphans have lost their parents – their very real mommies and daddies – to AIDS.  Imagine a world without this disease.  Imagine 77% FEWER orphans in Zimbabwe.  Imagine.

I read a brilliant article on the AIDS orphan crisis and I want to share with you some of my favorite quotes.  Let them sink in.  Dare to even let them go deep.  You – and your world – will be so much better for it.

  • Surveys suggest that overall about 15% of orphans are 0-4 years old, 35% are 5-9 years old, and 50% are 10-14 years old.

  • “The increased spiral of adult deaths in so many countries means that the number of children orphaned each day is expanding exponentially. Africa is staggering under the load.Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa.
  • In one study carried out in rural Uganda, high levels of psychological distress were found in children who had been orphaned by AIDS. Anxiety, depression and anger were more found to be more common among AIDS orphans than other children. 12% of AIDS orphans affirmed that they wished they were dead, compared to 3% of other children interviewed.
  • Children orphaned by AIDS may miss out on school enrollment, have their schooling interrupted or perform poorly in school as a result of their situation. Expenses such as school fees and school uniforms present major barriers, since many orphans’ caregivers cannot afford these costs. Extended families sometimes see school fees as a major factor in deciding not to take on additional children orphaned by AIDS.
  • The distress and social isolation experienced by these children, both before and after the death of their parent(s), is strongly exacerbated by the shame, fear, and rejection that often surrounds people affected by HIV and AIDS. Because of this stigma, children may be denied access to schooling and health care. Once a parent dies children may also be denied their inheritance and property.

Believing for a miracle and a cure,

Bo

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Comments
  1. Anne says:

    Wow Bo, those are extremely disturbing statistics. It does seem so huge and hopeless sometimes but I know there is something we can do to make a difference. We have so much to give, not just money or ‘stuff’, but our time and prayers as well.

    Thanks you for keeping this fresh in our minds because it’s easy to hear about it and forget it. And I don’t just want to give my $10 and forget about it. I want to see images and read statistics and hear stories and really remember that there is a huge hurting world out there that needs me on my knees for them and a desire to help that comes from the depths of my heart.

    Keep living dangerously Bo!

  2. mare says:

    Thanks for posting this. Thanks for joining the fight.

  3. Ann Dunagan says:

    Let’s do what we can . . . to turn as many of those “:(” faces into “:)”!!!! The joy of just one . . . or five . . . or maybe twenty . . . or (like for Jon and I) 610 orphan kiddos, is totally worth it, even when we have discouraging or even heart-wrenching moments.

    You know, someday, I’m going to write down how horrible my heart felt, and how discouraged I felt when one of our orphans DIED. (I never thought I’d have to deal with that, or having to share that news with a precious child sponsor.) But once that “worst” happened, it was like God dealt with a combo of all of our biggest fears in one huge swoosh of tears and sadness. And from there, we simply had to come against the condemnation of the enemy, and continue to go forward. God is with us (He’s our EMMANUEL!!!!) and He doesn’t mind if some of our dreams die, or our ideas of our wonderful plans being all “perfect.”

    He loves us through it all. . . through everything . . . and He wants us to simply continue to obey.

    God’s grace will help us to do whatever HE tells us to do and whatever He gives us the compassion for. He gives the compassion. We take the action. And then, Praise God, He is the One who brings reconciliation (like reconciling a bank book at the end of a month) to the amount of needed provision/wisdom etc…. on our side that falls so short, so very often.

    I remember, Bo, when you shared at the George Fox Selah conference how we can’t be afraid of making mistakes. We can’t be afraid of not being able to do “everything” either. And We can’t get so bogged down by the burden of what we can’t do, that we don’t do anything.

    And it’s so awesome to see more and more “:)” !!!!
    Those little smiles are priceless!!!!

    I love you, Bo!
    Ann

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