While the AIDS epidemic may have fallen off the front pages in the United States, it remains an urgent and critical problem around the world – particularly in sub-Saharan Africa – causing millions of children to lose one or both of their parents at a very young age, some tragically born with the virus.
At Bread and Water for Africa® we have not forgotten these children, the continent’s most vulnerable people who have no home, no food, no family and no hope. At children’s homes in Zambia – Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Center; Kenya – Lewa Children’s Home; and Zimbabwe – Shinga Development Trust; thanks to our supporters hundreds of children have a loving home, the food they need to be healthy and survive, a family with a new-found mother and dozens of brothers and sisters and the hope to see a bright future.
Today, December 1, is the World Health Organizations’ World AIDS Day promoting the theme of “Right to health” highlighting the need for all 36.7 million people living with HIV and those who are vulnerable and affected by the epidemic, to reach the goal of universal health coverage.
Under the slogan, “Everybody counts”, WHO is advocating for access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and health care services for all people in need.
According to WHO, the African region is the most affected region, with 25.6 million people living with HIV in 2016. The Africa region also accounts for almost two-thirds of the global total of new HIV infections.
At Bread and Water for Africa®, thanks to our supporters, we are doing all we can to battle the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa by providing our partner organizations with the medicines and medical supplies and equipment they need to treat the impoverished sick in their communities, as well as provide the basic needs of the casualties of this devastating epidemic – the children who otherwise would be fending for themselves on the streets.
Thousands of children living in rural Kenya are considered fortunate to be able to attend school. But many of them live miles from their school, and of course, there being no school buses to carry them back and forth, some walk 10 miles round trip, or even more.
However, a large percentage of them, proudly wearing their school uniform, must walk that distance barefoot.
Not only must they dodge sharp rocks that can cut their tiny feet, they must walk on hot, hard dirt paths during the dry season, and navigate puddles and deep mud when the heavy rains come.
But all for the lack of a pair of shoes, these children are risking serious illness and even death with every step they take.
Parasitic worms such as roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms can cause soil-transmitted disease, which the World Health Organization notes that “are among the most common infections worldwide and affect the poorest and most deprived communities,” such as villages in rural Kenya.
In addition, by walking barefoot children can become infected by the burrowing Tunga flea, known as a “jigger” in Kenya, a debilitating foot parasite which makes walking practically unbearable preventing thousands of children from attending school.
To address this severe health-related issue, we started a “Shoes for Kenya” program to provide thousands of children with a pair of shoes – likely the first pair they’ve ever owned – so they can walk to school safely.
Earlier this year, we ran pipes from a clean water source about two miles away from the Kebeneti SDA Dispensary in Kericho, Kenya so it would no longer have to rely on rainwater collected in storage tanks and now have access to all the water they need for patients, staff, and to keep the facility clean.
However, what remained lacking was hot water, meaning that they had to boil water for sterilization, washing, and bathing.
The good news for the clinic, located in the highlands west of Rift Valley about 25 miles from the equator, is that sunshine is abundant throughout the year.
To remedy that situation, this fall, with the continued generosity of our supporters, we took the next step by installing a solar water heating system on the roofs of buildings on the clinic compound to provide hot water for doctors and staff to use when showering and washing their hands, and also to aid in keeping the dispensary more sanitary.
And, as noted by dispensary manager Titus Korir, “Solar power is a cheap source of energy which can be sustained for a long time.”
The Kebeneti SDA Dispensary in Kericho, Kenya has been providing much-needed healthcare services to the people living in this underserved area of rural Kenya since 1966. But until recently, the doctors and staff managed to get by without a reliable supply of fresh water. Thanks to our supporters, we were able to install a pipeline from a nearby uncontaminated source.
This fall, we took the next step by installing a solar water heating system to provide hot water, so the doctors and staff have hot water when showering and washing their hands, and to aid in keeping the dispensary more sanitary.
As noted by dispensary manager Titus Korir, “Solar power is a cheap source of energy which can be sustained for a long time.”
Life is hard for the nomadic people struggling to survive in the arid Afar region of Ethiopia. For generations, they have managed to be able to keep themselves and their cattle alive in the drought-prone region. But this year’s severe drought is the worst these people have seen in their lifetime.
“By now the number of drought victims in Ethiopia has reached 7.8 million people suffering from widespread drought,” reported Yimer Mohammed, Director of the Yeteem Children and Destitute Mothers Fund, our long-time partner.
The severity of the drought has prompted Mr. Mohammed to make an urgent request for emergency drought food aid citing crop failure and food shortages “which aggravates the vulnerability of household livelihood through the devastation of livestock resources.”
And we could not refuse his request for funding for wheat flour, vegetable oil, biscuits and rice which will go towards sustaining an estimated 12,000 children, women and men on the brink of death during this period of extreme hardship – and thanks to our supporters, we did not have to.