Dear Mom, When the street kids fall sick, there is no medical attention given to them at all. They are always denied their rights to medical care because there is none to stand and fight for their rights. When they fall sick, most just pray and leave their lives to God’s control since there is nothing else they can do. “It’s so very painful not to have parents or people to fight for our rights, and for us being seen as useless in the society by others,” one kid told me. They are always seen as useless and the most disadvantaged people in the society. Since there is no older person to guide them on what to do, most don’t wash their clothes, or brush their teeth, thus they have very poor hygiene. This always results in diseases like scabies, ringworms, candida, and mental illnesses due to consumption of drugs.
Malaria is preventable, treatable and curable. Yet every year, there are more than 300 million acute cases of malaria around the world, resulting in more than one million deaths, mostly of children and pregnant women. Over 90 percent of these malaria cases occur in Africa. There, malaria kills an estimated 3,000 children a day and costs $12 billion annually in economic losses.
Our ABU medical officer Innocent Okia wrote this about Malara:
Malaria is the most dangerous disease in Uganda. It kills the adults and the young ones. It is the disease that attacks our organization the most. It makes some-one so weak that you cannot even sit up, and it starts with a terrible headache. You cannot eat for days because of no appetite completely.
This next story highlights the suffering of AIDS children. Usually these kids are born with the disease and it manifests in their teenage years as we see below. There are some small things we can do for them:
Our Wish: Since Uganda has free HIV medicine, it is easy for these kids to be maintained IF THEY HAVE HEAVY FOOD TO EAT. They are not given the medicine if they cannot consume heavy food. Of course street kids have no food. If someone could find sponsors for house rent, a cook, and food for 12 positive children, the cost would be only $400 a month. These kids can have normal lives. It is my prayer that some people will begin this mercy ministry for us. I would like to start with one house per city. Our HIV Seminar provides free testing, and when their status is known I would love to have a home for them to go to. I am sure that a place to go to will be a big incentive to get tested, as there is much fear of knowing their status.
My name is Jona, I am 15 years old currently living on Kumi streets. Both my parents died of AIDs in 2008. My father was the first to die then after like 6 month my mother also died. They left two of us. im the second born in our family. The firstborn is called Epaja. He is 17 years old.
I am HIV positive; I got it through mother-to-child transmission. My relatives abandoned us saying that Im already dead coz im HIV positive. They removed everything from us which our parents had left behind and even chased us from our own grass thatched hut home. But worst of all they refused to resume buying me the medicine and food I needed for treatment.
To them they believe that people living with HIV will not live for more than 2 years no matter what, so they see as if im already dead so its useless for them to take care of a dead body [me] which makes me feel so bad always.
I begun living in streets in late 2009. Sincerely, life has never been easy on my side in everything. Do you know how it feels like being HIV positive without treatment, food, counseling and even without any one to show you true parental
love and care…? It’s exactly how I am.
I have now stayed for about one month without any type of treatment
coz I cannot afford any. The last tablets got finish last month yet I was to be swallowing them daily, but Im not able to afford now. It was my parents who used to bring for me but now that they are gone, nobody cares for me any
more. I have lost weight and even now the signs of HIV are seen so much in
my body which was not even there before. But I think coz I don’t always get
treatment that is why.
I can’t even afford a meal. At times I even spend 3 days without food
which is not good for my health but since there is nothing to be done,
I just always put my health in God’s hands and I believe that im still
alive up to date coz of God’s Care.
When its time for sleeping, its another big problem I have again and again, since I don’t have permanent place to sleep. No mattress and not even just a bed sheet to cover my self with. Ooooohhhhhh My GOD I have really suffered a lot..
I don’t have words to express how much im suffering but all I need you to know is that I think im going to die very soon coz of no treatment and food. I don’t even have someone to counsel and guide me any more. My parents were everything I had in this world. May their soul rest in peace.
Please help us. Street life is very very hard which is not good for my health.
I will be very happy, Thanks Jona
Speter, our ABU street kid leader, wrote the following article in Feb. 2011 hoping to get people to care about what he was seeing on the streets concerning HIV. I thought it worthy of inclusion as it is current, and is the opinions of an 18 year-old who must care for these kids.
Dear Mom, Every day in the news we hear about people dying through earthquakes, floods, violence and wars. However, the greatest killer today is none of those mentioned above, but the AIDS epidemic, which takes more lives than all these others together. ‘’ It’s’ called the SILENT enemy who kills’’. People have quit talking about this killer like its’ work is done and finished, but it is alive and well on the streets of Uganda.
It targets the rich and poor, intellectuals and illiterates, youth and newborn. But worst of all is that of the street kids. Statistics show that worldwide 42 million people have so far been infected by HIV of which two thirds of them are in Africa. Many of these kids are living on the streets and are between the ages of 2 and 15. I personally look at this disease face to face every day. Many street girls are infected through rape or prostitution. Others, who are raped and conceive, give birth to infected kids who always have retarded growth and most die. Since we began testing street kids for HIV, the problem has become a major issue that we must do something about. IT IS A FOOD PROBLEM NOW.
First let me share with you the story of a Good Samaritan found in the Bible in the book of LUKE 10:25-37.
A teacher of the law came up and tried to trap Jesus. ‘’Teacher’’ he asked, ‘’what must I do to receive eternal life?’’ Jesus answered him, “What do the scriptures say?” How do you interpret them?’’ the man answered, ‘’ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and with all your mind’’; and ‘’ Love your neighbor as you love yourself’’ ‘’you are right,’’ Jesus replied; ‘’do this and you will live.’’ But the teacher of the law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘’who is my neighbor?’’
“There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by, on the other side. In the same way a Levite also came along, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by, on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he took two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘’take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him,’’
And Jesus concluded, ‘’ in your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbor?’’ The teacher of the law answered ‘’ the one who was kind to him.’’ Jesus replied, ‘’YOU GO, AND DO THE SAME.’’
PEOPLE, PLEASE……let us also do as he did. Coz me Speter, I’m doing all I can for these kids and I will NEVER give up no matter what, coz I feel their pain so much and will continue expressing exactly how they feel. I’m too poor to help them financially but I will continue finding help for them within and abroad, until I can also be financially stable to help them out of my own money. I am doing what I can and I need YOU to do what you can.
These kids are productive in different ways and they are the leaders of tomorrow. We should take care of these kids. They can live a long life with the HIV drugs available but they cannot take those drugs without heavy food and street kids have no food. Many kids shed tears. They cry for help and at least a better life. Every day and night they cry. Mom these kids need to be given the chance to grow please. They are suffering so much and most of them are just dying for no reason, but nobody seems to care for them here. Please let’s show love and care to these kids. If someone could contribute $1 a day for HIV infected kids to be able to eat, that could feed 2 kids every day so that they could take the free anti-viral drugs available in the centers, and make their lives count for something in this world. They have hopes and dreams too.
- Today, 5,760 children will lose a parent because of AIDS.
- There are over 12 million Orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa, where it is estimated that 9% of all children have lost at least one parent to AIDS.
- Within just 3 years, this figure is predicted to rise to 15.7 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- In Kenya alone, it is estimated that there are 1,100,000 Orphans, with a similar number in South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
- The loss of one or both parents has serious consequences for a child’s access to basic necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, health and education.
- Many Orphans find they need to contribute financially to the household, in some cases driving them to the streets to work, beg or seek food.
- AIDS orphans often leave school to attend to ill family members, work or to look after young siblings.
- Typically, half of all people with HIV become infected before they are aged 25, develop AIDS and die by the time they are 35 and leave behind a generation of children to be raised by their grandparents, other adult relatives or left on their own in child-headed households.
- Often orphans are the first to be denied education as extended families cannot afford to educate all the children of the household.
- The physical needs of orphans, such as nutrition, education and health care, often appear to be the most urgent. But the emotional needs of traumatized children who have lost a parent should not be forgotten.
- Many children already function as heads of households and as caregivers and need to be supported as part of the solution.
The silence that surrounds children affected by HIV/AIDS and the inaction that results is morally reprehensible and unacceptable. If this situation is not addressed, and not addressed now with increased urgency, millions of children will continue to die, and tens of millions more will be further marginalised, stigmatised, malnourished, uneducated, and psychologically damaged.
Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF
Following is John’s story, aged 13 years. Here is the typical result of HIV infection, causing the next generation to become orphans living on the street.
I grew up with my grandmom, she was a widow and a poor woman but she was capable of taking care of me till she died. But before she died, she used to tell me that in her life she had only one kid and that was my mother but my mother used not to obey her, my mother decided to leave the family and what came next, she became a prostitute and is where she got pregnancy and gave birth to me but because she was carrying out prostitution, she could not stay with me so she decided to drop me at my grandmother’s home.
Through prostitution, that is where my mother got infected with HIV and after a few years, she passed away. She did not show me my father and up to now I still do not know my earthly father!
Time came when my grandmother also passed away in her old age, truly my conditions worsened so much……….I was laughed at that I was a child of sin coz my mom died of AIDS and beside that, I had no father.
I suffered a lot in terms of food, and clothing’s and used to even lack water for
drinking. I started moving on the streets, and through rubbish pits in order to find a way of staying alive…..but there was no improvement at all….diseases increase on my side but there was nowhere to get even a single tablet to take. Such conditions used to make me cry so much. I had too much sorrow in my heart and no one to comfort me. Around December 2010, is when Julius met me on the street and took me to the ABU Soroti project.