Christians Spearhead World AIDS Day Efforts
- Wednesday, November 26, 2003
According to Dortzbach, who last year testified before the U.S. Senate on HIV/AIDS, having a child as the primary caregiver for a family is a common scenario in developing countries where AIDS is pandemic. "In one Mozambican home World Relief is involved with, the grandmother, daughter and infant all died of AIDS, leaving a 10-year-old boy as the caregiver for himself, an infant and a toddler."
UNAIDS statistics show that AIDS has left 13.4 million children with one or no parents.
In countries of operation, World Relief scouts for homes with child caregivers and mobilizes local church resources to help. This strategy covers entire communities and provinces and helps strengthen safety nets for all families affected by AIDS. World Relief has implemented programs that are gradually breaking down social taboos and myths surrounding the disease.
This year, Christian humanitarian organization World Vision partnered with more than 600 churches to initiate a new tradition for World AIDS Day. These churches devoted five to 10 minutes of their Advent Sunday Service to remember and pray for those affected by HIV/AIDS. To help pastors effectively reach their congregation, World Vision provided churches with a video featuring Christian leaders and musicians including Rick Warren, Max Lucado and Margaret Becker.
The video not only created awareness for the plight of those affected by HIV/AIDS, it also encouraged the audience to act on their convictions by sponsoring an orphan or vulnerable child or supporting World Vision's many other HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs all around the globe.
For example, World Vision's HIV/AIDS Care project in Chennai (formerly Madras) helps address the needs of commercial sex workers, offering counseling, treatment for opportunistic infections and vocational skills training to help sex workers find new means of earning a living. The project also works with widows infected by their husbands. World Vision's efforts particularly focus on women and children not only because they often are unwittingly infected, but also because they often are the most vulnerable members of society.
"Poverty, AIDS, oppression, all seem to prey most easily on children and women," says Jayakumar Christian, who, on Jan. 1, will begin serving as World Vision's national director in India. "According to our Christian mandate, we must address the issues that affect these vulnerable people."
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