Last week, we talked about 153 Million Orphans
That number is big, but it’s kind of abstract.
What does this mean?
Let’s think about us again for a minute (we like to do that, don’t we? I know I do.)
If you’re reading this, you probably live in the United States, Canada, or Europe. Sorry if the rest of you feel left out…it’s just what Google Analytics tells me. But I digress.
There are 140 million children in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Where we live. Every kid we see at the bus stop, or at birthday parties, or in the mall.
Think of those faces…imagine every kid we’re likely to come into contact with in our daily lives or see on TV or on YouTube.
There are 140 million of “our kids” right?
Now, let’s take deeper look at 153 million orphans.
145 million of them (95%) live in developing nations.
There are more orphans in developing nations than children in the US, Canada, and Europe combined.
Did you get that?
At-risk children in developing nations outnumber parented children in the western world.
How is this OK?
So, what’s the deal?
As I noted last week, UNICEF’s statistics represent the total number of children who have lost at least one parent.
To those of us in the United States, Canada, and the rest of the industrialized world, that seems a little misleading. We live in a culture where single parenting is common. In some cases, it’s a choice. It’s possible.
Keep in mind, though, that we are some of the richest nations on Earth. We have public schools and daycare. Despite the current economic issues, we still have high paying jobs. We have relative equality for women in the workforce. We have cable TV, Internet access, and cell phones.
The risks for the child of a single parent in the developing countries are much, much higher.
A single mother (or father, for that matter) doesn’t have the same options available to care for her child while she hustles off to a job. Instead, she walks miles to get water with her baby strapped to her back. She begs in the street. She starves so that her child can eat what little she manages to provide.
The parents who are struggling to get by,
The parents with medical issues and no support system.
The parents who have issues drugs, alcohol, or abuse.
Many orphanages are filled with kids where everyone hopes for reunification of the family….but where it seldom happens.
Within all of these numbers and non-numbers is the chilling fact that in some countries, as many as to 10% of orphans have lost one or both parents to AIDS. And many countries where it’s a problem simply don’t have or don’t report HIV statistics.
Medications are available to control the virus, and to minimize the spread to unborn children, but it’s not nearly as simple as popping a pill every day.
A quick Internet search turns up a confusing cacophony of treatment courses and options, each with its own challenges. When a single mother in Africa learns she’s HIV+, she can’t just trot down to the clinic. It’s hard for her to be disciplined about taking her medications at the right time every day when she doesn’t have a clock. Or clean water.
She can’t keep her body strong enough to fight the virus when she doesn’t have enough food to eat.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
The thing is, we don’t have to know everything there is to know about every calculation that goes into statistics about orphans. We don’t have to know every situation that could cause a child to be at greater risk.
We certainly aren’t in a position to judge the people that find themselves mired in poverty and loss.
We just need to get that there’s a need. And we need to help.
What are you doing right now to engage with at-risk kids, either at home or across the globe? Leave a comment….
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