Orphans & Vulnerable Children
With more than 15 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa having lost one or both parents due to HIV/AIDS and other causes, the burden of caring for these children has eroded traditional social safety nets in many communities. As the HIV epidemic cripples households and communities, Africare has responded with interventions aimed at supporting families and communities to care for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).
A UNAIDS report describes some of the conditions faced by those children:
- "Currently children under 15 account for one in six AIDS-related deaths worldwide and one in seven new HIV infections ― the vast majority through mother-to-child transmission."
- "Many more children are affected by HIV even though they are not infected. After illness and death, the harshest impact on children is the death of one or more parents, and the resulting loss of affection, support and protection. Countless children become responsible for the care of their siblings and other family members when parents are debilitated by poor health. In addition to psychological trauma, they experience poverty and social dislocation as well as stigma and discrimination, which in turn increase their vulnerability to becoming infected."
- "In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 9% of children under the age of 15 have lost at least one parent to AIDS, and one in six households with children is caring for at least one orphan."
A Zambian teenager, who volunteers with Africare as an HIV/AIDS peer educator, summed up the situation this way: "If we are the future and we're dying, there is no future."
UNAIDS report: "Affected Communities: Orphans and Vulnerable Children" (available at www.unaids.org)
(Updated, April, 2010)