This Saturday is the 5th annual Ubuntu: Walk.
Join us this Saturday at the Phoenix zoo for the Ubuntu: Walk. The Ubuntu: Walk is an exciting mix of family-friendly fun and exposure to God’s heart – that we should serve others and provide for those who are in need. There will be a bouncing castle, face painting, a silent auction, live auction and breakfast. What better way to spend time with families and friends and make an eternal difference in the lives of the vulnerable and orphaned. You have the ability to restore hope: one child at a time, one village at a time. Registration opens at 7am and the walk starts at 8am.
One of the primary goals of Orchard: Africa is to empower our partners in the United States with the understanding of God’s calling on their lives to support orphans and widows. This year we are adding “passport stations” throughout the walk. Those that get their passport stamped at all four stations will be eligible to enter into a free raffle. The stations take walkers through Matthew 25, which says:
“Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…I was sick and you took care of me…’” -Matthew 25: 34-36
Providing a regular healthy meal to every child in need is one our highest priorities. Children who have a stable and nutritious meal can concentrate in school, relieve burdens on their family to provide, and are healthy and able to play sports. We will always meet this basic need for children. For them to be successful in life and for their spiritual life to grow, they first must be healthy and sustained at the most basic level. The FUND A CHILD program specifically focuses on providing regular meals to 3 children each month for just $10 a month.
Orchard: Africa ensures that every village we work in has access to clean water. Water is a basic necessity and is the key to the success of our other programs. Children who do not have access to clean water are susceptible to various diseases. Their bodies have trouble keeping proper nutritional levels. A healthy meal is less effective if children only have dirty drinking water.
The community is an essential part of life for those we serve. We empower communities as a whole to provide care for one another. We believe in the capacity of the communities to bring themselves out of the AIDS/poverty cycle with a little help. While many of the communities we serve are poor they have great faith in God and great dignity in their family and community. Orchard: Africa always focuses on serving with respectful compassion. Many of our programs meet people in their home to provide social services or home based care. We encourage pastors we work with to go and meet with his congregation. Learn their needs and begin to engage the entire community in solving and meeting those needs.
Southern Africa has been the hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic. In its wake many children have been orphaned and all youth are vulnerable to contracting HIV if they are not properly educated. AIDS has cause a missing generation in the parent generation. Orchard: Africa empowers the church to fill that gap. Pastors provide AIDS Prevention Training to youth in schools and youth groups. We focus on equipping the young generation to be healthy and make good choices. The foundation the church can build by reaching children and youth is strong. God has equipped His church for a time such as this. As US churches partner with Orchard: Africa sustainable change is brought to village after village
Nelson Mandela is the icon of South Africa. He represents hope and reconciliation. His presence reminds the country of its past and the how far it has come. South Africa has been a shining example of democracy in action. Mandela taught the world how to look beyond prejudices to appreciate the person behind.
So why do we bring up the first president of the free South Africa? Sunday, Mandela returned from the hospital after a minor diagnostic surgery because of an abdominal complaint. The Guardian said his return “eased fears over his health and demonstrating his resilience.” Mandela is a figure whose identity is wrapped up with the country and as such, his ongoing strength and hope continues to provide stability to the country.
In honor of the great legacy Mandela, here are some highlights from his great life.
– July 18, Rolihlahl (Nelson) Mandela was born in a South African village called Mvezo.
– At the end of the eight-month trial, Mandela and seven other defendants are given life sentences and taken to prison on Robben Island.
– Mandela is freed after 27 years, as a result of a relaxation of apartheid laws and the lifting of the ban on the ANC. He is greeted by large crowds as he and wife Winnie leave the prison grounds.
– Mandela is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to bring stability to South Africa. Accepting the award, Mandela says: “We will do what we can to contribute to the renewal of our world.”
– April 27, South Africans, including Nelson Mandela, vote in the country’s first democratic election.
– May 10, Nelson Mandela addresses the crowds at his inauguration, saying: “Let freedom reign, God bless Africa!”
– February, To mark the fifth anniversary of his release, Nelson Mandela visits Robben Island, the prison he was held in for 18 years.
– Mandela is diagnosed with prostate cancer and begins a course of radiation.
– Musicians, film stars and politicians join Mandela at a concert in London’s Hyde Park to celebrate his 90th birthday. Speaking to the crowd he says “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens, it is in your hands now.
The water problem in Africa is multidimensional. At the core of the problem is access to sources of safe drinking water. Improving sources of drinking water for developing nations impacts child mortality, education, disease reduction and poverty reduction. The UN’s Millennium Developmental Goals have set a goal to halve the number of people who do not have safe drinking water and improved basic sanitation. “Improved” sources of water include public taps, protected dug wells, protected springs, rainwater collection or piped household water. Currently the world is on track to meet that goal, except for Sub-Saharan Africa. Sadly 1 billion people still lack access to “improved” drinking water. Even worse, more than 3.5 million people die each year from water-related diseases and 84 percent of those are children. In Sub-Saharan Africa 60 percent of people have “improved” drinking sources with the goal of reaching 80 percent by 2015. While this number is low compared to the rest of the world, greater disparities exist between urban and rural areas. Forty seven percent of the population in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa has “improved” sources of water compared to rural areas.
Orchard: Africa focuses on restoring hope in rural communities by directly impacting the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children. Because of this we focus on the impact that lack of access to clean water has on the well-being of the children we serve. Young children are particularly vulnerable to water related diseases that are preventable. Girls are also greatly impacted by “unimproved” water sources. Many miss large amounts of school because of the daily necessity to walk to water sources or wells.
Improvement of drinking water and sanitation can increase the overall health of rural communities who are already malnourished and impoverished. There are simple solutions such as frequent hand washing with soap and safe storage of drinking water as well as the elimination of standing water – breeding grounds for mosquitoes spreading the Malaria virus. Additionally the implementation of “improved” water sources will greatly increase the heath, education and capacity of rural communities providing more time for school, better use of water for agriculture and safe use in households. Orchard: Africa is working to understand the best way to meet the needs of the rural communities we work with which can result in options from digging wells to installing filtration systems.
If we work together to provide access for those in need of vital clean drinking water and safe sanitation facilities we can prevent over 1 million child deaths from diarrhea, 500,000 deaths from malaria and over 800,000 child deaths from malnutrition.
Find out more about our water projects in rural communities by visiting our projects page.
Safeguarding the World’s Water. USAID, July 2011
Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water, 2010 Update. World Health Organization and UNICEF
The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2010. United Nations
How does safe water impact global health? World Health Organization
One Billion Affected. www.Water.org
Water Crisis Looms in South Africa by David Braun. National Geographic
It’s now been 30 years since the AIDS virus was identified. UNAIDS estimates that 34 million people are living with HIV today and nearly 30 million have died from AIDS related causes since June 5th, 1981. At Orchard: Africa we’ve seen an entire generation live through the disease. From the obscurity and lack of knowledge relating to the disease to where we stand today, it is a good time to look at the progress that has been made.
6.6 million, including 425,000 children, are receiving antiretroviral therapy in low and middle-income countries – this is a 22-fold increase since 2001. Antiretroviral drugs have always been a difficult solution based on their complexity, side affects and constant need for change in Africa. We’ve seen many patients who’ve resisted ARV’s and chosen to stop taking them. Our home based care volunteers are trained to help assist in this area and take patients to local clinics along with helping them stick to their medical plan. It is astounding to see the massive impact these drugs have on a person’s health and it is a miracle drug. ARVS also have a massive impact on infection rates – reducing transmission rates by 96%.
Global infection rates have also declined – with a 35% decline in South Africa between 2001 and 2009. South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV in Africa. We have noticed a great improvement in the understanding and nature of the disease. Our HIV/AIDS education is now being met with open eyes and ears instead of the embarrassment and giggles that used to follow our discussions on sex and STDS in local high schools. Studies show that people are starting to adopt the ABS’c (Abstain, Be Faithful and Condemise) of safer Sexual Behavior.
Children infection rates have radically been reduced thanks to ARV’S, reducing the transmission of the HIV virus during childbirth and breast-feeding. Unfortunately this is increasing the number of orphans in Africa as many children later lose their mothers to AIDS. The number of children infected with HIV in 2009 was 26% lower than in 2001. Many of the children we feed daily were born to mothers who were already infected with the virus and are now orphaned.
Great progress has been made, both on the medical front but also in the understanding and nature of the disease. Our projects are being affective. Even though the rate of new HIV infections remains high at 7000 per day, the global reduction in new HIV infections are highest in Southern Africa. Investment in HIV response has increased 10 fold from $1.6 billion to $15.9 billion in 2009 but many low income countries remain heavily dependent on external financing. $22 billion is needed by 2015 to ensure 12 million HIV infections are averted and 7.4 million AIDS deaths averted.
We face a Goliath but we are David.
East Africa is facing it’s worst drought in over a generation. The last such devastating drought was recorded sixty years ago. Everyday, over 3,000 people arrive in Kenya and Ethiopia, hoping to find food, aid and refuge from the severe famine.
Although East Africa is currently experiencing a drought, hunger in many other parts of Africa is the norm. Hunger in Africa is a systemic problem. It is as a result of interrelated problems, not only drought. African agriculture itself is in crises. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, 200 million Africans are malnourished.
The African continent is huge, with 53 independent countries. No one problem or solution fits all. However, there are some common critical issues.
- Decades of underinvestment in rural areas where people have very little political clout has led to little or no infrastructure. Rural people struggle to grow crops with no irrigation. Even in times of good rain, any overflow of food cannot be sold because rural people do not have access to transport to get their crops to markets. Nor do they have adequate storage facilities so excess crops cannot be kept over long periods for lean times.
- International trade agreements and subsidies favor strong economies. This makes it difficult for poorer countries in Africa to compete. Added to that is a lack of sound governance in many African countries. Politics, more than drought, causes hunger in Africa.
- The biggest culprit over the past two decades that has caused hunger in Africa is HIV/AIDS. This pandemic has robbed families of their strong, productive workforce. In fertile countries like Zambia, where crops can grow in abundance when the rainy season comes, millions are starving. Adults are too sick to work their fields. Life expectancy has dropped from 50 to 32. As the adult population dies, the children and the elderly are left vulnerable and hungry.
At Orchard: Africa we recognize that hunger in Africa is a multi-layered problem that needs long-term solutions from various sectors. In the short term, we feed the hungry. We have provided 3.2 million meals to the hungry. By 2014 we aim to increase that number to 5 million.
We take this scripture verse personally. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble…” (James 1:27). In the long term we are working toward an HIV free continent, educated children who are emotionally and spiritually whole and leaders who are equipped and actively participating in bringing about sustainable change in their communities. We believe that severe poverty and AIDS can be overcome in this generation.
With partners like you that have come alongside us, I know that we can succeed. Thank you for your help.