Zimbabwe's orphans are a great tragedy of AIDS in Africa.
AIDS in Africa
has created a tragedy of great proportion. But few countries suffer the consequences of the HIV AIDS epidemic quite as severely as Zimbabwe, a land-locked country to the north of South Africa.
The country has endured great political instability over the last decade, resulting in a spiralling inflation which reached 231 million percent by October 2008, together with a complete breakdown in health services and near cataclysmic starvation, with the World Food Program launching an appeal to feed 5 million Zimbabweans in 2008.(1) Zimbabwe's mounting contribution to statistics on AIDS in Africa and HIV AIDS are sadly, unsurprising.
It is estimated that one in seven adults are living with HIV AIDS and the rate of daily infection for adults and children is 565, nearly one person every three minutes.(2)
As a result, Zimbabwe has a higher number of AIDS orphans, in proportion to its population, than any other country in the world, according to UNICEF. Most of these cases are a result of parents dying from HIV AIDS.(3)
It is estimated that this tiny country has over 800,000 orphans, the majority of whom are AIDS orphans.
The ability for a country in such great disarray to look after these children is negligible. As such, many of the
are homeless children or are, in fact, carers themselves for the remainder of their families. As is the case in other sub-Saharan countries, AIDS in Africa has impacted mercilessly on other family members, grandparents in particular, and the difficulties they endure dealing with the consequences of HIV AIDS cannot be over stated.
And there are too, just good community people who are, often by default, the carers of the abandoned or orphaned children.
In an article about the Orphans of Zimbabwe for the Mission Magazine of the United Church by Christie R. House, this is demonstrated by the story of Chirpo Makowi Fandera, a fifty year old, who lives in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. She looks after 25 children in her home. Six of the children are her own and the other 19 have been 'dumped' on her by the police and welfare officers. The article goes on to explain that these children have been abandoned by their HIV-positive parents or teenagers unable to care for them.
One of the
working in the country, Zimbabwe AIDS Orphans website writes: "Groups of such children are an increasingly common sight . . . children growing up without adults to supply love, nurturing care and protection, who are hungry, malnourished, denied their basic right to education and ultimately stigmatised and excluded by societies whose attitudes and policies are rooted in ignorance and discrimination".
They comment further that
is decimating the adults who could have helped take care of these children, family members, teachers and health workers.
On top of one of the greatest human losses, to lose one's parents, perhaps siblings, friends and other family members, many of these children are themselves infected with HIV. More than 17,000 children are infected with HIV every year, the majority through mother-to-child transmission.(4)
Meanwhile, too many children remain severely malnourished.(5)
“It doesn’t need to be this way. The people of Zimbabwe need more than the world’s outrage; they need the world’s support.” (6)
Zimbabwe is a beautiful country, no more so than when gazing on the magnificent Victoria Falls, (Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders) on the great Zambezi River. The world community should work hard to help restore this once stable country, renowned as the bread basket of Africa, to a safe, economically viable democracy not only to change life for the AIDS orphans and abandoned children, but for the people of Zimbabwe as a whole.
Knit-a-square.com aims to help Aids Orphans in Southern Africa by asking the knitters of the world to
knit an 8 x 8" square (or more) and send to Africa to help make blankets for the children.
Please subscribe to
Square Circle ezine
to read more about this knitting project and about the African children so greatly affected by AIDS in Africa.
SOURCES for AIDS in Africa
(1) Sydney Morning Herald October 11, 2008(2) AVERT.org(3) UNICEF(4) World Health Organisation (December 2005), ‘Zimbabwe country profile for HIV AIDS treatment scale up’.(5) Association of Zimbabwe Journalists (19th November 2006),'Zim has Highest Orphan Rate: UN Official'(6) IRIN (2008) ‘Zimbabwe: Responding to the PMTCT challenge’.