Posted on December 1, 2017
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December 1, every year has marked World Aids Day, since it was officially designated by the United Nations in 1988.
World AIDS Day is dedicated to raising awareness and showing support to people living with HIV/AIDS around the globe. It commemorates those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses and the progress made in the fight against the pandemic. HIV has not gone away and it is vital to increase awareness and support those affected or living with its consequences.
35 million people have died of HIV/AIDS since its first cases in 1980 and before it was first medically identified in 1984, making it one of the deadliest global pandemics in history.
An estimated 36.7 million people are said to currently have the virus around the world, with over 19 million of those said to be in Eastern and Southern Africa alone. At least 3.4 million children in the region are now living with the virus, and over the last 37 years some 17 million children have lost one or both of their parents to the virus, leading to a greater need for support for the orphans left behind.
On this day, we reflect on the devastation that has affected the majority of the countries we are based in, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda Tanzania (especially in the region of Kagera), where the vast majority of the nearly 5,500 orphans we have reached are AIDS orphans.
The AIDS pandemic has had a significant effect on where as a charity, ACT directs its spending. Given our limited resources, we have been forced to prioritise which children we are able to support among the most disadvantaged. We considered that the child led family has to come first and then the grandmother and single mother families.
The pandemic had changed the course of many lives. Most grandmothers had not expected that they will be caring for their grandchildren, which sadly is the new reality in many parts of Africa. They had hoped to be in retirement supported by their children. The past two decades has seen ACT striving to help these orphans and offer them hope of a better future.
Oscar and Luwisi are two ACT supported children, whose lives as AIDS orphans provide a glimpse of the realities affected children have had to face. Both are orphans who lost their parents to AIDS. Although there start in life may have been a struggle, still they have been able to receive an education and are on the path to building a better future for their lives with the support of ACT.
Oscar was born in 1995, the second of three boys, in Ndola which at the time was the second city of Zambia. Both of his parents died of AIDS and his elderly grand-mother, a widow, became his guardian. Uneducated, unemployed and with little means, like many widows in Africa, she struggled to provide even bare necessities for Oscar, let alone pay school fees for his education. With such hardship, Oscar was malnourished and at risk of dropping out of education altogether. When he was 8 years old ACT came to the rescue. With steady help and support, Oscar completed primary and secondary schoo was accepted into Copperbelt University in 2016 to study Wood Science and Technology on a scholarship from the Zambian government on the back of his strong academic performance.
“I want to thank ACT for the great work they are doing. I don’t know what I would have become without ACT’s support. I pray God prolong their days on earth so that they may continue with their good work”
Luwisi was born in 1999, the second of three children, in Nyezelera, village, Malawi. His father was educated and technically capable. He worked as a builder and had a successful local business. Although not rich, the family was able to manage financially. Just as he turned 6 years old, Luwisi’s world was turned upside down. His father died having contracted AIDS and the same year his mother also died of the same disease. Luwisi was taken to live with his grandmother in another village. He came to the attention of ACT because of the desperate state in which he lived with his grandmother and was supported in 2007 when he was 8 years old. He was enrolled at the Nyezelera Primary School and supported with school uniform, shoes, satchel and daily school meal to reduce the burden on his grandmother. Luwisi is now in the final year of secondary school and aspires to go to university.
We acknowledge that orphans and widows are some of the most affected victims of HIV/AIDS. As we mark World AIDS Day, we hope we can all reflect upon the children affected by the loss of a generation of parents who are not there to take care of them and consider in what way we can help?
What they need is our support to receive an education like other children so that they can achieve their potential in life and break from the cycle of poverty.
To find out how you can help click here.
 National AIDS Trust
 USAIDS Factsheet
 UNAIDS Newsletter