By Nina Wegener of Hands of Action Uganda
In the whole world there are 15 million children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS, which is similar to the total children population in Germany or United Kingdom.
12.1 million of these are African.
Children who are orphaned or vulnerable due to AIDS are less likely than their peers to have adequate education, food or medical treatment and are more likely to suffer from abuse and psychological trauma. In addition to that 1 billion children live in poverty which means 1 in 2 children in the world. (source: http://www.globalissues.org)
These are some facts about the situation of orphaned children in the whole world but now I want to concentrate on a special area: Bukibokolo subcounty in Bududa District, Eastern Uganda, where I spent one year doing volunteer work work with “Hands of Action Uganda”. During my time there I talked to many families to find out about their lives and problems they have. Many of these families were hosting orphan children who lost their parents and nearly all of these families were fighting hardly to survive, to earn enough to feed all the children and to come up with money for school fees – and so on.
Buteme Mauren, Nandutu and Nabusiu Prima, 3 and 4 years old, already lost both parents to AIDS in their young ages. Now they are staying with their grandmother who can`t even afford money for treating Mauren’s eye problem. She has to do casual work for guaranteeing the children at least one meal per day, because the crops from the own garden are not enough for all of them.
Wamono Isaac, a boy of 7 years, is also living as an orphan with his grandmother and ten other children of the grandmother. The boy has a problem with his back which pains him every day, but can’t be treated because there’s no money. The grandmother can’t pay school fees for 11 children, so some of them have to stay at home.
Another problem in Bududa are the landslides which cause death and poverty in the hilly area. Wamono David (8) and Kutosi Herbert (10) are two boys suffering as a result of a landslide. They lost 2 siblings through it and also all their land was destroyed. These two are staying with their father, but lost their mother in 2004 of AIDS. They go to school but don’t have uniforms same as other ordinary clothes.
Patricia Lunyolo is 17 years old and is staying with her mother and five siblings in a house which was half destroyed by the rains. The girl finished class S3 but has to stay at home this year, because there is no money for school fees. The family eats once a day and some members are suffering from sickness, as the mother has a heart problem and one of the children has chest pain which couldn’t be treated at the nearest health center. Patricia’s biggest wish is to go back to school so that she can improve the family’s situation by having a good job later.
The guardians have no money to take care of the kids, and most also have their own children to feed. Many of the parents/guardians only manage to cook one meal a day for the children, because the garden is too small for satisfying the whole family. The children often become sick, thanks to poor nutrition, as well as malaria due to a shortage of mosquito nets. These sicknesses cannot be treated, there is no money to pay for treatment. Children have to sleep without mattresses and bedsheets in one small room and often have only one set of clothes, even no school uniforms.
The biggest problem is, however, that there is absolutely no possibility to earn money for many of the parents. Nearly everyone in the area is working as a farmer and they help each other on the farms – for a very little money. Everybody is looking for the same kind of work at neighbour’s places, hoping to earn at least something. But what shall they do in dry season, when nobody is digging and harvesting?
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt