Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sibling Family: An Example of Lutherans Making A Difference in Kenya with Orphans

Mercy for AIDS Orphans in Kenya

(We withheld real names to protect the privacy of those mentioned.)

Meet June. June (right with brother on her back) is about 11 years old. She carried her brother on her back to the medical clinic at Springs of Life in Kibera slums. She was with a friend, Rose (left, holding the hand of a little girl), and after they signed up for the clinic and situated their siblings, June and Rose played together as little girls would. Then, when it was time to get down to business and see the doctor, she swung her brother onto her back and was acting like an older mother.

It was astonishing, yet sad, to see such a young girl switch roles so quickly. However, this is a common practice, called “sibling families,” wherein a child 11-16 years old will function as the parent to their younger brothers and sisters. These are the victims of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Orphans, millions of them, in Kenya alone, are left to fend for themselves because their parents died of AIDS, often by the time they were thirty years old. Kenya is only an example of the suffering in sub-Saharan Africa from HIV/AIDS and poverty. A gruesome and deadly combination.