Today, like every day, 6,000 children around the world will lose a parent because of AIDS, the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. Take action to honor these children on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day. (INTERACTIVE)
Seven-year-old Mani, who lives in India, lost her mother and grandmother to AIDS. She now lives with her 80-year-old great-grandmother. Mani's story is just one among 6,000 children every day who lose a parent to AIDS.
© 2006 Jon Warren/World Vision
This year, on World AIDS Day
, there are 6,000 reasons to act, and each one of them has a name and a story — like Mani.
A Tragic Tradition
Seven-year-old Mani, who lives in India, lost her mother to AIDS — a significant hazard for a devadasi, or Indian temple prostitute. Her grandmother, also a devadasi, died as well. Mani now lives with her 80-year-old great-grandmother, Mogamma. World Vision provides the pair with monthly food rations, along with school supplies and tuition for Mani.
But her future remains in doubt. Despite the obvious risks, Mogamma remains undecided about whether the girl will be forced to follow the family's Hindu tradition into the religious sex trade — a practice that is prohibited by law, but continues nevertheless. The education Mani receives through World Vision could prevent her from being exploited like her mother and grandmother.
INTERACTIVE: AIDS Has a Face
HIV and AIDS don't just devastate the lives of those who are infected. There's a tragic story behind each child who loses a parent to the crisis. Watch this photo montage of children who have been affected — and discover that AIDS does, indeed, have a face.
'What Are We Going to Do About It?'
Mani's story represents just one among the 6,000 children every day who lose a mother, father, or both parents to AIDS, joining the 15 million children worldwide who have already been orphaned by this devastating disease.* If all these children held hands, the chain would reach across the United States five-and-a-half times; by 2011, that virtual chain could reach around the world.
Children in Thailand commemorated World AIDS Day with a candlelight vigil in 2006.
© 2006 Paiwan Benjakul/World Vision
While Africa has received a lot of press attention regarding the AIDS issue, millions of children in India and China have also lost one or both parents to AIDS — and now the pandemic is beginning to explode in Russia and threatens to reverse decades of development work in Latin America.
"AIDS is not just another problem on the world's to-do list. This crisis calls for the Church of Jesus Christ to rise to the occasion," says Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. "The question hangs in the air: 'What are we going to do about it?'"
You Can Help Now
Despite the staggering statistics associated with HIV and AIDS, there is hope for Mani
and children like her around the globe. World Vision offers several meaningful ways to make a difference for children on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, and every day.
Consider praying about how God can use you to offer hope for children affected by AIDS — joining World Vision's Hope Prayer Chain
can help with this exploration. Then, take a look at these additional opportunities for action:
- LEARN: Visit our Countdown page regularly between now and Dec. 1. Each day, we'll feature a new child's story, video, slideshow, or radio segment, as well as information about events in cities across the United States.
- GIVE: Feed and care for an orphan with a one-time gift of $26, or sponsor a HopeChild in an AIDS-affected area with a monthly gift of $35. You could even donate funds to build a World Vision Caregiver Kit that will help volunteer AIDS caregivers, or organize a Caregiver Kit-building event at your church or organization.
- ACT: Our World AIDS Day Countdown page also will feature information on the first-ever 24-hour Global Vigil as it takes place between Nov. 29 and Nov. 30. Throughout this event, participants will read 6,000 names of children who have lost parents because of AIDS. During these two days preceding World AIDS Day, the Vigil will begin in Toronto and will be observed around the world in cities such as San Salvador, Dublin, Auckland, and Hong Kong — concluding in New York City the following morning.
Although 6,000 is a daunting daily number, it's critical to remember that each new orphan has a unique story, like Mani. AIDS is the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today, and fighting it requires collective action and perseverance. The items above are just a few ways to make a meaningful difference. Be sure to check back
regularly between now and Dec. 1 for additional options.
But whatever you do, do something for children like Mani. Imagine losing a parent because of AIDS. Imagine if your children lost you.
* World Vision uses the United Nations definition of an 'orphan' as a child under 18 who has lost one or both parents to the AIDS pandemic. When a child loses one parent to AIDS, the remaining parent may be infected with HIV as well, or cannot sufficiently care for the family without significant assistance.
>> Visit the World AIDS Day Countdown site for new content each day between now and Dec. 1, including stories about children affected by HIV and AIDS, videos, radio segments, slideshows, and additional ways to get involved.
Four Ways You Can Help
>> Pray for the generation of children like Mani around the globe who have lost one or both parents and other loved ones to the AIDS pandemic. Pray for God's intervention, and pray that the international community will be inspired to take action on a crisis that devastates the lives of the young and old alike.
>> Step into Africa and see through the eyes of a child living in an AIDS-affected community. Visit the World Vision Experience: AIDS.
>> Make your mark for children affected by AIDS. Ask Congress to swiftly reauthorize the Global AIDS Bill and allocate funding for the care of orphans and vulnerable children.
>> Sponsor a HopeChild in an AIDS-affected community.