Originally published in the WFCF Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 2, September 2005
The statistics are overwhelming and devastating:
- An estimated 770,000 children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 720,000 in Ethiopia, 1,800,000 in Nigeria and 1,100,000 in South Africa.
- An estimated 1,200,000 adults and children living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya, 1,300,000 in Mozambique, 1,600,000 in Tanzania and 1,800,000 in Zimbabwe.
- Life expectancy rates at birth of 36 in Lesotho, 40 in Malawi, 34 in Sierra Leone and 39 in Swaziland.
- An estimated 49,000 deaths due to AIDS in Cameroon in 2003, 47,000 in Cote d’Ivoire, 78,000 in Uganda and 89,000 in Zambia.
The human toll is unimaginable. The current situation is mind-numbing and heart-wrenching. The future outlook is frightening and bleak. HIV/AIDS is decimating Africa and help is needed urgently to begin to stop this pandemic from destroying the present and the future of this great and beautiful continent. According to the Website AIDS and Africa (www.aidsandafrica.com), whichever way you look at AIDS in Africa, either through the overwhelming statistics, moving personal stories, or the disturbing images, one cannot help but acknowledge the magnitude of the health catastrophe facing Africa today. The challenge of treating 26 million AIDS victims (about 3.2 million new infections annually) is unfortunately very huge. But there are dozens of organizations and foundations dedicated to fighting this scourge and changing the course of the disease. From governmental agencies to private charities to religious-sponsored ministries, there are many efforts already at work in ways large and small. Each one is making a difference, whether through broad legislative change or focused grass roots efforts. All have the goal of bringing healthier living to individuals and societies in across the continent.
The World Forgotten Children Foundation is committed to pursuing ways in which it may have a small impact on helping to alleviate Africa’s HIV/AIDS crisis. Currently, WFCF board members Attorney Gary James and Rev. Michael Gingerich are researching these various organizations. They are concentrating on those groups that focus their efforts on children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. At the fall board meeting, they plan to present recommendations about which groups might be supported with WFCF funds. Even small amounts of money can purchase many medications, treatments and life-saving care for children in Africa who are orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The World Forgotten Children Foundation is poised to make a difference in a very important way.