Tuesday, September 16, 2008

AIDS Orphans

On October 5th the local Grandmothers organization, a part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, will be holding a scrabble tournament to raise money for the grandmothers of Africa who are raising their grandchildren. I have a lot of respect for Stephen Lewis, and for the women in our community who have a heart for the people of Africa suffering because of AIDS so I'm happy to play scrabble to support them.

The latest issue of Christian Century just arrived and there is an article on AIDS orphans in Zambia. These statistics broke my heart:

THE AIDS epidemic in Zambia is expected to leave 1 million orphans in its wake--almost 10 percent of the country's population. If one adds to this figure the number of children who have lost one parent to AIDS, the total number of grieving children in the country is staggering.

Like most nations in southern Africa, Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) is mired in poverty. The average family survives--barely--on $300 per year. Most Zambians are undernourished. The HIV infection rate is still high--16 percent, down from a high of 26 percent thanks to massive education efforts undertaken by the government and an array of nongovernmental organizations, including churches.

Zambia's orphans must rely on the good will of their extended family or the charity of well-meaning people in their villages. Forty-six percent of Zambian families are caring for orphans. That means that people who are already barely surviving must add another mouth to feed. It's a heroic act for families to take in these children. Families often have to decide between feeding the orphans and paying the fees for their schooling. As hard as life is for these orphans, they are better off than the many who live in the streets and steal food to survive.

From Shattered hearts. By: Matteson, Richard E., Christian Century, 9/9/2008, Vol. 125, Issue 18
These Grandmothers groups have formed in communities across the country - maybe there is a scrabble tournament in your community you can support.

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