Today is World AIDS Orphans Day. Did you know that 25 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS in our world? And over 15 million of those are orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa? Yes, I said millions. Not hundreds or thousands but MILLIONS of children.
The thought staggers me. These are real live children. Babies who cry to be held by mothers who love them and those mothers are gone. Imagine if my children lost both Rob & me to a preventable and treatable disease. We would all agonize over what a tragedy it was. Yet this is happening to 25 million children worldwide. Why are we letting this happen?
I can't know about this and not do something. It is physically impossible for me to do nothing when I know that children are losing their parents to a disease that, in our country, is no longer a death sentence. That is why I'm going to Swaziland with Heart for Africa this July. The kids I will be working with there have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. I worry about leaving my kids happy & healthy here in the States to travel to Africa three times in the next year (once for Heart for Africa, twice for adoption) yet there are mothers in this world who are worrying because they don't know what will become of their children when they die. What a petty worry I have.
Ethiopia has one of the largest percentages of orphaned children in the world (and the majority of them have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS). I've mentioned this before, but I am fully aware that I will be adopting a child whose mother I wish I could have kept alive or able to parent him. This breaks my heart for my child. I cry about it even now when I've never even seen his face. I hate so much that he will hurt in this way.
Before we started this journey, I asked Rob if it wouldn't be better to just donate $25,000 to a family in Ethiopia to keep a mother united with her children. And maybe it would be. Sometimes I feel selfish that we are adopting. But the thing is, there are children there whose parents are already gone and no amount of money in the world will bring them back. That is why we are adopting. So here's my commitment: once we have raised the money for our adoption, I have promised myself that I will continue to work on raising an additional $25,000 for children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. I don't mean right away... I'm thinking more like over my lifetime. Last Christmas, I did a TON of sewing and sold everything to raise money for my trip with Heart for Africa and I raised about $1000. All I have to do is do that every year for the next 26 years and I'll have met my goal. :) We also plan to return to Swaziland (and maybe one day Ethiopia) with ALL of our children to continue to work with kids who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
I know this isn't the most lighthearted post... sorry. Well, I'm not really sorry. I'm hoping you will join my ranks and not be able to sleep until you've found SOMETHING you can do for those children who have lost their parents.