THERE IS HOPE IF THERE IS HELP
A little girl has touched my heart, and I hope she will touch yours, too. Temdoline is her name, and she lives in Swaziland, Southern Africa, where at 9 years old she is a mother to her siblings, having one by one lost her father, mother, grandmother, and older brother to HIV/AIDS. Her aunt will die of the disease soon, leaving the children to fend for themselves.
Her only food is lunch, provided at school by the World Food Program (www.wfp.org).
Temdoline says, “Every day I go to school without breakfast, and every day I go to bed without dinner.” Home is a makeshift shelter with a dirt floor. She has one dress to wear, a school uniform with no back to the skirt. To preserve that tattered rag, after school she changes into a pair of shorts, her only other clothing, and is too ashamed to go out without a top.
Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has been writing about Temdoline and other orphan children since his recent trip to sub-Saharan Africa, and you can read his op-ed reports and see his video called: “The World Hasn’t Moved On” at www.nytimes.com/kristof.
I wrote him to ask what I could do to help Temdoline and others, and he wrote me back about the Cabrini Foundation and the work that the Cabrini Sisters are doing in Swaziland to help orphaned children and people coping with AIDS. I have been corresponding with Sister Barbara Staley of the Cabrini Mission there, who has told me about their efforts and ways that I could help. I hope you will consider doing something for them also…….most of us who have more than we need are only too happy to help, if we can find out how.
Here are some statistics about HIV/AIDS. They are staggering, but PLEASE read them.
3/4 of HIV/AIDS victims live in sub-Saharan Africa. 13 million African children are orphans because of the loss of their parents from this disease.
In the next 4 years, by 2010, there will be 42 million orphans in Africa, and by 2025, 100 million. Swaziland has the highest incidence of AIDS in the world, with 40% of adults infected. The life expectancy there has dropped from 55 years to 34.
Worldwide, there are 2.3 million children infected, 700,000 in 2005 alone, and 3 million people die from AIDS each year, half of them children under 15, mostly Africans infected during childbirth. 7,900 die every day from the disease, including one child every minute. Since AIDS was recognized in 1981, 25 million people have died, and 40 million others are infected.
By 2020, 70 million people will have died from the disease. In India, 5.7 million people have AIDS, 1% of the total population of 1.1 billion people. In South Africa, 5.5 million people are infected, but while a similarly upsetting number, it represents an appalling 19% of the population of 47 million. 90% of people with the virus don’t know they have it.
$1.6 Billion was spent fighting the disease in 2001, $8.3 Billion in 2005, and the UN says $17 Billion is needed for 2007. In 2003, the U.S. pledged $15 Billion over 5 years, about what we spend in six weeks on the War in Iraq. A $4 dose of NEVIRAPINE will prevent passing the AIDS virus between mother and child during birth, but less than 10% get the drug.
This disease has moved from marginalized groups of the population to mainstream, with most victims now innocent children. There is HOPE if there is HELP. Kenya is providing free ARV (Anti-retroviral Drugs) to AIDS victims, and has reduced prevalence from 14% in 1997 to 4% today. It’s a matter of getting HELP where it can make a difference.
Here are some ways you can help Temdoline and other children like her. Realizing that it is easiest for people who want to help to make a financial donation, this can be done on line at www.cabrinifoundation.org. Their website includes full information about their program in Swaziland, and Sister Staley assures me that, if designated for the “Swaziland Mission”, 100% of monetary contributions will go directly to their orphanage and their efforts to care for HIV/AIDS victims. A donation can be made by phone at 212-995-7003, or you can send it by mail to: The Cabrini Mission Foundation, 222 East 19th St. 5D, New York, New York 10003.
Specific information can be obtained through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sister Staley understands that many people prefer to send goods, and has given me a list of items of particular need, including: multivitamins, toiletries, pens, paper, markers, paper clips, black ankle socks, new underwear, boys and girls shoes up to size 11, shirts, skirts and dresses, blankets, pillow cases, and single sheets. She notes that it is ESSENTIAL that packages be marked “DONATION FOR OVC’s” (orphaned and vulnerable children) because otherwise they will have to pay a high import tax upon receipt. Packages can be sent to: Cabrini Ministries, P.O. Box 5183, Manzini, M200 Swaziland, Southern Africa.
The Cabrini Mission is 50 miles from this post office, and parcels may take up to 3 months to reach them, but they make the trip frequently to take patients for medical treatment, so can pick up parcels without a problem. She advises that if you would like acknowledgment of receipt, please put a note inside the box with your e-mail address on it, and she will send you an e-mail to let you know it has arrived.
I often think of the “simple life”, when thoughts are consumed with the tasks of the day and the seasons impose the requirements of survival on decisions, when news of the world rarely intrudes, and life is reduced to bare existence on a specific place on earth.
Today, the various media most Americans engage with during our day bring the plight of the whole human race to our attention, and our emotions are drawn to the far corners of our globe. It takes an effort to focus on how to “spend” one’s emotional energy, because there are so many issues, so many in need from such myriad causes.
It is easy to become numb and turn away from the painful reality endured by others. But, the future beckons us. We may linger in memories of the past and be focused on the present, but the future is where we are headed……..and the children of our world, and their plight, are our future.
I can think of so many ways we Americans can help children in need around the globe. If every classroom in America raised money or sent packages of essential goods to an adopted classroom in a developing country, just imagine the good will that we could establish. It is one small way we could regain the soul of America, as well as satisfy our own. I hope you will join me in making a difference for the children in Swaziland, who are able to find some joy and comfort because the Sisters of the Cabrini Mission are devoted to helping them find their way, when all seems lost. I can only do a little by myself, but together we can do a lot.
Barbara Carr, New Harbor, Maine
Lincoln County Weekly, Damariscotta, ME 04554 June 14, 2006