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Ethiopia

Orphanage admits 15 HIV orphans per month

The Monitor (Addis Ababa)
January 11, 2000
By Lullit G. Michael

Addis Ababa - A Catholic nun at the Mother Teresa Children's Home said there are at least 15 new admissions per month of children who have been orphaned by HIV.

Speaking to The Monitor at festivities organized at the Addis Ababa Exhibition Hall for HIV-orphaned children in connection with Ethiopian Christmas and Id Al Fetir, Sister Christie revealed that the kids currently live at one of the two orphanages run by the Charity. "When you look at the kids you will not suspect that they are HIV positive because we give them vitamins and high protein foods.

For example look at this little girl here," she said pointing out to a healthy looking beautiful girl of about four standing nearby. "She is HIV positive but she does not know it." The death rate among the orphans-about 30-35 children per year-is very high.

"No one knows how long the children will live. It is God's plan.

We just accept every one who comes to our home, without regard to religion or cast, and take care of them until they die," said Sister Christie, who arrived in Ethiopia only three months back. About the children's reaction to the occasional death of their mates she said, "the kids feel very bad." Explaining about their lives in the home she said, "they cannot attend regular schools.

So we have hired two teachers and we teach them in the compound." Speaking about the day's festivities she said "Every one is happy, we brought 99 kids today to celebrate the holiday with children from other homes," The Sidist Kilo Children's home and the Mekanissa Home sent 55 and 44 children respectively for this particular programme which started at 12:00 and went on until 4:00 PM. "The older children know that they are HIV positive, but the small ones are not aware of their status," she said.

A total of 350 AIDS-orphaned, children some of them carriers of the disease, were hosted to a lunch, music entertainment, circus and dance. The programme featured a traditional music troupe, Circus Ethiopia and Tesfaye Sahlu-the veteran actor and children's TV programme presenter.

The event was organized by Dawn of Hope, in association with People to People, a voluntary organization formed by Ethiopians based in the US. People to People raised about $3,000 for the event, which was augmented by local funds raised by Ethiopians living at home.

People to People Public Relations officer Wt. Yerukager Mulugeta who is currently in Ethiopia, said that part of the money was used to buy the children gifts, and also to buy their families and homes food items. The funds that go into helping AIDS victims were donated by Ethiopians living in the U.S.

and Canada who responded to appeals made through various channels including the Internet. People to People's headquarters is in Lexington, Kentucky, while it has a branch office in New York.

It has 15 active members in the US and a committee of 11 in Ethiopia. The programme was attended by personalities like popular artiste Chachi Tadesse and, world famous athlete Haile Gebreselassie, among others.

Chachi and Haile signed autographs for excited children who politely waited for their turns. Athlete Haile Gebreselassie, who was the guest of honor at the event presented gifts to the children.

Speaking to The Monitor, he said "I appreciate the organization for giving the children a very good day. It is important not to make them feel left out and abandoned especially during this holiday season.

I was very much moved by everything I have seen here today."

"The society has to work seriously to sensitize everybody to fight against this disease and to prevent such misfortunes from happening to innocent children," he said. "Preventive measures are very important to help children not to be pushed out of their homes and exposed to poverty and or disease," he added.

Chachi Tadesse on her part said she came to show her support to the children, to tell them that she loves them and to encourage to the organizations helping them. "The most important thing is to show the children that they are not alone.

We have to tell them that." Chachi is also organizing a fund-raising concert for the Ethiopian Epiphany to support HIV-orphaned kids.

Publication date: January 8, 1999


Copyright (c) 2000 The Monitor - Addis Ababa. Distributed via Africa News Online (www.africanews.org). For information about the content or for permission to redistribute, publish or use for broadcast, contact the publisher.

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