Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ghanaian AIDS orphans touch our hearts

ACCRA, Ghana — My heart and those of the members of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Advisory Board were moved Wednesday when we visited the AIDS orphans and the HIV-positive adults cared for by the Pathfinders Outreach Ministry, a Ghanaian non-governmental organization working and struggling with minimum resources in a poor area on the outskirts of Accra:

As the adorable toddlers scampered into their arms and our laps, we heard Becklyn Ulzen-Christian, Pathfinders executive director, describe the care she and her staff provide for orphans and vulnerable children and HIV-positive adults in the face of limited resources, great stigma against HIV-positive people and other challenges.

Pathfinders looks after 70 children, 13 of whom lives at the facility, and many HIV-positive adults who have been rejected by their families and friends. We talked to Felicia, a middle-aged woman whose hard life is etched on her face, who has been HIV-positive for 17 years. She said she has found a new life in the warmth of Pathfinders and now has a purpose to her life.

Pathfinders gets its support from three major sources – U.S. Agency for International Development for food aid; Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria for behavior change communication and education in HIV, tuberculosis and malaria; and GHC member Academy for International Development (AED), though AED’s support is ending and Mrs. Ulzen-Christian has no idea how they will carry on without it.

The Advisory Board is in Accra for their annual meeting in which they are examining the Candlelight Memorial event from last May and planning for the next one in 2010. The Advisory Board is made up of two regional coordinators from each of the six regions in the world – North America, Latin American and Caribbean, Europe, West and Central Asia, East and South Asia and Africa.

No comments:

Post a Comment