I know the eyes of most of us glaze over when we are presented with statistics, but i invite you to put these numbers into some perspective.
We have all been captivated and horrified by the recent events in Japan. News stories tell us nearly 6500 are confirmed dead, with more than 10,000 missing- and that may be a conservative estimate. I simply cannot imagine having to face the devastation and rebuilding that will need to be done in the coming months, years. And we here in the United States remember vividly Sept. 11, 2001 when more than 4000 of our citizens were killed in the terrorist attacks on our soil,
both of these events devastating, and forever etched upon the minds and hearts of the people who experienced them.
But imagine, if you can, 6000 people dying EVERY DAY of a treatable, preventable disease. This is what HIV/AIDS is doing in sub-Saharan Africa. This is nearly twice the toll of 9/11 and almost as much as the present death toll in Japan...but it is happening EVERY DAY!
Now, lest you think that i am in any way minimizing the devastation, loss, and emotional tribulation of either 9/11 or the earthquake in Japan, be assured i am not. The people of Japan have been in my thoughts and prayers ever since the quake and tsunami happened. But my heart remains with the grandmothers i have met, caring for their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren...women who have lost 1 or 2 or 3 or more children to the disease...women who have worked all of their lives and now, in old age, instead of being cared for, have taken over the role of "parent", "caretaker", "support" for their grandchildren, often having as many as 7 or 8 of them of varying ages in their small homes. And lest you think this is an insignificant problem, here are some more statistics:
- In sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS orphans account for 10-12% of ALL children.
- Of the 16 million AIDS orphans worldwide, 14.8 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.
- And the reality is, if it were not for AIDS, most of these children would not have been orphaned.