Emerging AIDS crisis in India leaves orphans helpless

By November 20, 2007

India (MNN) — Four to
eight million people are currently infected with HIV in India. This growing epidemic
is having an especially substantial effect on the orphan population. India has the
largest number of AIDS orphans out of any country–approximately 2 million,
according to UN estimates.

Orphan Outreach
wants to
provide help for the growing number of AIDS orphans in India. President Mike
Douris stresses the enormity of the problem.

"India has an
emerging HIV crisis," says Douris. "That's one of the reasons why we
picked India to target for orphan care."

In the next two to five
years, this number is expected to double.

"The prognosis is
that India could be like Africa soon, according to UNICEF," Douris says.
"Sub-Saharan Africa has 40 million orphans–13 million due to AIDS. In
India alone, there are 35 million children who are classified as orphans."


One of the projects Orphan
Outreach supports is an HIV group home in Pune, India. The home provides health
care and support for orphans infected with HIV who have lost their parents to
AIDS. The group home was founded by a
female doctor who experienced firsthand the need for a refuge for HIV-infected

While involved in a
medical situation, the doctor saw a child sitting on the floor of a home being
ignored by the rest of the family. No one would go near the child or answer her
questions, so the doctor approached the child to minister to him. She soon
discovered that the child was dead, and had died alone and unknown in the
corner of his own home. 

After further
investigation, the doctor found out that the child had AIDS, and his family
would not go near him for fear of catching the disease.

"Her heart just
broke," said Douris. "So she decided that there needed to be a place
in Pune for HIV kids where they can get good care, learn about their disease
and how to cope with that."  


City slums are a
breeding ground for AIDS and a common habitat for orphaned children.

"When you look at
the orphan crisis, you have 143 million orphans in the world," says Douris.
"Most of those kids aren't living in orphanages; they're living in slum

Orphan Outreach's
mission is to provide children with the skills they need to survive. By implementing
Christian schools in the slums, Orphan Outreach hopes to address the physical
and educational needs of the orphans.

"We're really
focusing on the educational aspect of these children and setting up private
Christian schools in high-risk communities where orphans are living," says

"Orphan Outreach
is really in a unique position to be able to begin to work with some of these
children and set up the programs that can really have an impact on these
children's lives and introduce them to the name of Christ," Douris said. "And
hopefully [Orphan Outreach] will be able to raise them in a Christian
environment and provide the skills they need to be able to do well once they grow
older and become independent."

Efforts are being
focused towards the areas of India most affected by the AIDS epidemic, but
there is still an overwhelming need for help. Douris requests prayer for the
kids and ministries in India, and encourages people to get involved.

"We need more
people to actually go and minister there," he said. "The kids are
very receptive to the Gospel."

"To have the
opportunity to minister to them, to provide them a good education, and really
provide the things they need to survive that can break the cycle of poverty in
a lot of these areas. The children really are the future."

If you'd like to help
Orphan Outreach with their work in India, click here.

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