Ps: 26 more days!!! AHHH!
Slide 4: “I can’t emphasize strongly enough the extreme emotional turmoil of children orphaned by AIDS. What the world fails to recognize is that these children don’t become orphans when their parents die, they become orphans while their parents are dying, and this is especially true in the case of the death of the mother. ... I enter a hut, where the bleakness and gloom are palpable. On the floor of the hut lies a young woman in her twenties or thirties, so wan and emaciated as to be unable to life either hand or head. I bend down, painfully inadequate to the circumstance, and touch her brow, uttering some pointless banality which is intended to sooth, and then as I step back, looking around me, I see her children, all her children, standing in the darkened shadows, watching their mother die. How do they recover? The death is long, agonizing and filled with indignity. The children wash their mother, they clean her when she’s incontinent (an experience of excruciating embarrassment for both mother and children), they search everywhere for an aspirin to relieve the pain of some opportunistic infection, and then, horrified, gaping, they stand in the darkened shadows and watch their mother die.”
Slide 7: “ Graca and I were taken to see one of those sibling families with five children: three girls; 14, 12 and 10, and two boys; 11 and 8. ... Graca turned to the two older girls, and in a most gentle, reassuring voice asked, ‘Have you started to menstruate yet?’. The two girls, clearly startled, replied in those shy, barely audible whispered voices so characteristic of African children, ‘Yes’. Graca continued to ask a number of other personal questions regarding the meaning of this and if there are people in the community that are available to talk to. The atmosphere was intense, the little girls, now fully embraced in Graca’s arms, seemed to have suspended breathing and I suddenly understood that I was witness to the first act of ‘mothering’ that these girls had ever received about on the most transfiguring experiences of a young girl’s life. ... and that is what’s happening right across the continent: the transfer of love and knowledge and values and experience from one generation to the next is gone, and with it goes the confidence and security and sense of place which children normally take for granted. Children, already traumatized by the death of their parents, are left reeling as they confront the void in the aftermath.”
Slide 10: The state of the health of the women in the villages was ghastly. Household income was ransacked, and time once spent on walking to distant fields and growing a variety of foods had been given over to caring for the sick. AIDS leads to hunger; hunger exacerbates AIDS. It’s a merciless interaction. The numbers of orphan children are beyond belief, in fact, so beyond belief that when we drafted our reports, we actually said “The situation of orphans represents a humanitarian catastrophe and a violation of the rights of children. The inability of the United Nations system and the international community to adequately support national governments in their response to the needs of the huge numbers of orphans in the region is unacceptable”. That’s UN-speak for saying, “You’ve failed lamentably: for God’s sake get your act together”.
Slide 14: “As I’ve moved from country to country over the last four years, it’s been clear, inescapably clear, that as the pandemic evolves, children orphaned by AIDS are becoming the single most intractable and painful legacy. There are no equivalent precedents. Nothing in historical experience has prepared us for two generations of children rendered desperate, lonely, sad and bewildered by sheer circumstance.”