“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me” (Mark 9:37)

The Need

In order to ensure the commitment of appropriate and sufficient resources, the magnitude of the problem must be identified.  

  • UNICEF estimates the number of orphans at 210 million in the world today. 

  • 86 million orphans in India 

  • 44 million orphans in Africa by 2010 

  • 10 million orphans in Mexico 

  • 35,000 children die everyday from hunger and malnutrition.

As a new century unfolds, orphan children living in developing countries struggle to survive without the support and protection of parents or the love of a family environment. These numbers include those who are internally displaced or refugees from conflict or natural disasters, conscripted as child soldiers, live on the streets, or have lost one or both parents to the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Within ten years there will be a staggering 44 million orphans in Africa from the HIV/AIDS virus. The youth of today have never known life without the epidemic.

This crisis of generations of orphans is in the countries with the least-developed physical or social infrastructure, greatest poverty and the most limited resources. As the orphans grow up in this environment they will add to the object poverty and crumbling family values because they have never learned parenting skills from their own mothers or fathers. They will find it difficult to impossible to be parents themselves.The long-term repercussions of huge populations of orphans in third-world countries will cause the very fabric of society to disappear and vast socio-economic devastation. Children who are raising themselves will not go through the normal healthy development process but will lack food, shelter, education, nurturing, and health care. In addition, most of the orphans live where the typical family faces poverty, malnutrition, as well as lack of safe water, sanitation, and basic health and education services; so solutions to orphan problems must address a broad range of community needs. The reasons why children continue to suffer are complex and include poverty, greed, discrimination, lack of education, gross inequality and war. In addition, the nature of children, their age and often their dependence on adults make them especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. These children are left especially defenseless. With few resources or laws in place that will protect their interests they are often left to fend for themselves. Older children become the caregivers of younger siblings, forcing them from their schooling and keeping them from a promising future.

AIDS Creating an Orphan Crisis

Arguably the epidemic’s cruelest legacy is the orphans it is leaving behind.  

It is estimated that a child is orphaned by AIDS at the rate of one every 14 seconds. Whole nations are being weakened by this disease. We risk losing the next generation.

"This is the defining moral issue of our time," Bono.

"Even if we could stop the spread of AIDS starting today, the number of orphans would continue to increase for the next decade," said Dr. Anne Peterson, USAID assistant administrator for global health. The USAID official said, "The societal impact is beyond just the impact on the orphans themselves. The implications of this are unprecedented."

While societies have always had to find homes for children without parents, the sheer scale of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the number of orphans being left in its wake speaks of an extraordinary human catastrophe.

Given the long incubation period between infection and death, long-term solutions are needed for orphans because the epidemic's impact will linger for decades even if the rate of new infections is brought under control.

Africa has the greatest proportion of children who are orphans due to AIDSBy 

2010, the number of orphans will reach 44 million. Twenty million of these children - or almost 6 percent of all children on the African Continent -will be orphaned due to AIDS.

As it is, roughly one in ten sub-Saharan children is now an orphan. This number well exceeds the capacity of local communities to care for parentless children. So how do places such as Zambia, where almost 12% of children are AIDS orphans, cope? The answer is they do not! Many drift into the streets, living in the slums and others are forced into becoming child prostitutes. (Nearly two-thirds of child prostitutes are AIDS Orphans) According to UNICEF, more than half the countries south of the Sahara have no national plans to care for AIDS orphans.By 2000, the HIV/AIDS crisis had created more than 13 million orphans worldwide, children who before the age of 15 lost either their mother or both parents to AIDS. More than 90 percent of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa (UNAIDS 2000a:27) (see Figure 1). Today, in eight sub-Saharan countries, more than 20 percent of all children under 15 are orphans of AIDS or other causes of death, a situation that will prevail in 11 countries by 2010 (Hunter 2000:164).

This will create a child-care crisis never before seen in any war, famine, or other tragedy. Botswana, Namibia, world. However, the pressing needs for basic survival and education have tended to dominate research and intervention agendas in the former setting.The Economic Development

AIDS also impacts the economic progress of developing countries as it claims teachers, doctors, and other specialist human resources. In 1999 alone, an estimated 860,000 children lost their teachers to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. 


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