Thursday, December 1 is World AIDS Day, an annual global health campaign by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) working to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.
While in the United States and many other developed countries where advanced medicines for treatment and control of HIV/AIDS are available, that is not the case in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The inequalities which perpetuate the AIDS pandemic are not inevitable; we can tackle them. This World AIDS Day, UNAIDS is urging each of us to address the inequalities which are holding back progress in ending AIDS,” states UNAIDS.
While we at Bread and Water for Africa® fully agree with UNAIDS that an increase in availability and quality of services for HIV treatment, testing, and prevention should be increased so that everyone is better-served, for us – right now – our focus is on helping those most vulnerable impacted by the HIV/AIDS crisis – the orphaned children who are left behind.
Providing support for children’s homes in sub-Saharan Africa is nothing new for us, as thanks to our supporters, we have been doing just that for our partners, such as the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia, for decades.
In fact, the history of our partnership goes back to 1998 when we provided Kabwata founder and executive director Angela Miyanda (the wife of the former vice president of Zambia, Godfrey Miyanda who was serving as Minister of Education at the time) , received a grant for $5,000 as seed money to support an orphanage and transit centre to house orphaned and abused children until permanent homes could be found for them within the country.
Many of the children were orphaned due to the tragic AIDS epidemic and finding suitable homes with relatives or in foster care was extremely difficult, especially in the cases in which the children themselves were born with the virus.
In June 1998, Angela wrote in a letter to Gene Krizek, president of the board of directors of Christian Relief Services which oversees Bread and Water for Africa®, of her visit to our headquarters in Virginia how grateful she was for the donation to her cause.
“Rest assured of it being utilized for the intended purpose,” she wrote Gene, adding that she was honored to have been appointed as a member of the Bread and Water for Africa® advisory board. “It is a great blessing and honor to me and the nation.
“Once again, thank you for being there to make life worth living for the Zambian orphaned children in my country.”
Over the course of the next two years, Bread and Water for Africa® provided Angela with grants totaling $10,000 towards the construction of a new dormitory for the AIDS orphans living under her care.
Among them was Waitia who told us that “When I was 6 years old, my 4-year old brother and I lost our parents and left orphaned and alone. We did have an older brother who tried very hard to care for us. He would sell empty bottles on the street so that sometimes we could eat.
“It was very difficult,” she continued. “Some days he made some money and we could eat, but most of the time days would pass before he could earn anything for food.
“It was at this time that my and my brother’s story might come to an end. A child alone in the world cannot survive for very long.
“But then, Mrs. Angela came one day and took my brother and I to the Kabwata orphanage.
“She told us she was building a home for children who needed one, just like my brother and I. After that day, we had food, clean water, and a bed to sleep in.
“It was like a dream!
“Without Mrs. Angela and the Kabwata orphanage, I couldn’t imagine how my life may have ended up.
“Today, I am 21 years old and have just completed my education. I concentrated in video production and currently work on attachment at a local television station in Lusaka.
Thanks to Mrs. Angela, our home at Kabwata orphanage, and the kind supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, I can provide my little brother with a role model he deserves, and I was able to get an education and a chance to do more with my life.
“Because of your caring supporters, my story has a happy ending.”
We at Bread and Water for Africa® take joy and pride in such happy endings for hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children who have had the opportunity to not just survive, but thrive in the children’s homes people like you enable us to support – while at the same time realizing that there will always be many more “Waitas” who will need our help in the years to come.