HIV/AIDS is the primary cause of death among youth worldwide.1
Nearly 7,000 young people become HIV positive each day.2
HIV yields to “determined and concerted interventions.” Programs that provide comprehensive sex education to young people can help curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic.3
1. Risk and Protection: Youth & HIVS in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Alan Guttmacher Institute online.
2. United Nations (2003) HIV/AIDS and Young People (pp 334–69) in World Youth Report
3. UNAIDS (2005) AIDS Epidemic Update
world aids day
The Blessing of Hope
By Jo Anne Lyon
World Hope International
Zambia has been called the cradle of Africa’s AIDS crisis. Of Zambia’s 11.5 million people, 5 percent, roughly 575,000, are AIDS orphans, children who have lost one or both parents to this disease. A full 46 percent of all households in Zambia care for orphans; some experts claim that number is as high as 75 percent.
Facts like those rolled easily off my tongue until I visited a rural community church near the town of Zimba. The pastor there had arranged for us to meet community people and hear their stories. After polite curtseys from the children and handshakes from the adults, we took our seats on log benches, and sitting on the first three rows was a group of children, all dressed in their finest, with clothes clean and hair groomed. The pastor pointed to them and explained that all twenty-five of them were AIDS orphans.
On the opposite side of the room, an elderly gentleman rose to his feet. Speaking in English, he stated that he was eighty-four years old and that all of his children had died from the “crisis.” He himself was taking care of nine orphans. Then a teenager stood and pointed to all the brothers and sisters who were left in her care when both of their parents had died. A very thin woman stood and pointed to the number of children she cared for in addition to her own. Suddenly, the numbers became faces. I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of this crisis.
Yet at the same moment, hope welled within me. Within a few moments, we began planning an income-generating project for that community, which would assist them in caring for the orphans. We also made plans for a program to train caregivers and for improvements in education, initiatives that would benefit the entire community. Hope began to rise within the children as they realized they would not have to be moved from their community and placed in a strange environment. The fulfillment of this hope will involve people from many walks of life, each investing time, resources, skill, and prayer, but the seed has been planted.
Is there any hope that something we do might lead to a solution for the pandemic of AIDS in Africa? I believe there is. God wants to use ordinary people who have passion and hope to heal that suffering continent.
This is the blessing of hope.
Things You Can Do
Learn more about HIV/AIDS and its impact on the world (visit www.unaids.org or www.avert.org).
Participate in a World AIDS Day event or join the One Campaign (www.one.org).
Consider organizing a group within your school, church or civic group to adopt a school in South Africa or Zambia (visit www.worldhope.org).
Reprinted from The Ultimate Blessing: Rediscovering the Power of God’s Presence by Jo Anne Lyon, © 2003 by Wesleyan Publishing House. Used by permission.
By Jo Anne Lyon, Executive Director of World Hope International
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