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The mission of AHOPE for Children is to support services to Ethiopian children with primary emphasis on orphans infected with HIV.
Ethiopia is a nation that has been severely afflicted by the worldwide AIDS epidemic. An entire generation has been decimated in the child-raising years, leaving hundreds of thousands of orphans. Many of these orphaned children test positive for HIV.
Facilities in Ethiopia caring for orphans are seriously overcrowded and most do not accept children known to be HIV positive.
There is much misinformation and superstition surrounding HIV and AIDS within the Ethiopian population, which has resulted in widespread stigma and shunning of persons with HIV/AIDS. Relatives are often reluctant to accept children whose parents have died from AIDS. Accurate education about HIV and AIDS is essential to both prevent the spread of AIDS and to end the shunning of those who are infected.
Widespread abandonment of children to the streets or to institutional care has caused them to lose family and ethnic identity, two very important elements of the Ethiopian culture.
Provision of orphanage care is not adequate to address the problem. Families need to be encouraged and supported to care for their orphaned children at home. This requires a combination of support and education for the families and the communities in which they live.
- Rita Radostitz
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