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Children at Risk in Africa

September 2001 - Jinga, Uganda

The news from Jinga of the death of Lydia, the last of a mother’s five children, has torn the village of Jinga apart.  Using her own AIDS infected blood to inject her children, she made a difficult decision to try to spare them a life as orphans in Black Africa.

Such a desperate act of “compassion” is incomprehensible to us in the Western world.  What of the other 14 million AIDS orphans who survive their parents?  They are all children at risk.  Today in 2010, there are now 20 million AIDS orphans.  They are:

  • Orphans with no extended family to care for them
  • Abandoned babies, children and youth
  • Abducted children exploited as child soldiers and slaves
  • Handicapped children living on the street, discarded by society

Sub-Saharan Africa contains 85% of the world’s people affected by AIDS.  The northern countries of Africa are Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Algeria.  The population in these countries consists of Arabic and white-skinned Muslims.  South of the Sahara Desert, the other countries of Africa, which is called Black Africa, contains mainly black-skinned people:  They are Christian and Muslims and other

Many demographic groups consist of only orphans and old people.  All of the people between the ages between childhood and the elderly have died from AIDS.  The remaining children are left to be reared by
grandmothers or no one.  If there is no grandmother to care for children, then the oldest child becomes head of household.

How can one person help 14 million AIDS orphans in East, Central and South Africa?  One doesn’t look at the numbers, the statistics or the trends, but only at the reason for service—Jesus; obedience and faithful service for Jesus.  Otherwise, the challenge is daunting, disheartening, improbable and impossible.  Jesus himself provides the impetus, inspiration, motivation, strength, endurance and energy to perform the task.  Africa Village Ministries takes Christ centered educational resource classrooms to urban areas and delivers Village Kits to remote communities in Africa.  We need many committed, compassionate educators to help us train local teachers and teach the children there.

The curriculum of Africa Village Ministries is heuristic “to invent, or to discover,” as in, “Eureka, I’ve found it,” as opposed to the rote methods used in Africa and other third world countries.  Learning centers are set up for students ages 6 through 16, with lessons in the disciplines of reading, math, creative writing, art, music, social studies, science and health/physical education.  All of the lessons in
this curriculum are based on scriptural principals.

These learning centers:

  1. Bring love and comfort in Jesus’ name while providing a positive
    educational structure to children’s daily lives.
  2. Add color, creativity, joy and a new dimension to learning; while instilling in the children an awareness of their own intellectual gifts and unique God-given passions
  3. Promote higher level thinking skills so the children are equipped to face life’s trials and make decisions of integrity based on scriptural knowledge

The work of the resource classroom is done one child at a time as in the life of a little girl, Constanza.

A Story from Constanza, a Street Child, Age 7:

The day the missionary, Heidi, carried me from the garbage dump back to the orphanage, was the day I met Jesus.  She washed me, cleaned my wounds and told me that she loved me and that Jesus loved me.  The other children at the orphanage would not come near me because of my scabies and worms.  But Heidi’s daughter, Kristi, gave me her best dress to wear.  They fed me, nursed me, sang, read, prayed and played with me.

But the day Heidi baptized me, I was able to speak and smile for the first time.  When I came up out of the water, Jesus healed my speech so that I could talk in long sentences and praise Him out loud.  Jesus
also healed the bad dreams, thoughts and pictures in my mind and heart of my mama and papa being killed by the soldiers’ machetes.

Praise Jesus!

After recovering, Constanza is able to develop and relearn social and cognitive skills.  In the resource classroom, she has many opportunities to repair past emotional damage.  Her scars can be healed over.  Having dealt with the past and with her future brightened, Constanza can experience the joys of childhood again.

A Franciscan Blessing:

…May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.


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