Monday, December 24, 2007

the AHOPE center

The cross-road scene near the guest house. Just beyond the goats and the dust is the AHOPE center. AHOPE is the African HIV Orphans: Project Embrace.

Unlike the orphanage center where we obtained our referral children, a majority of these kids in the AHOPE orphanage do not receive placement.

Kids in Ethiopia, like anywhere in the world, are full of smiles and curiosity.
(photo credits: Tom and Nikki)

The kids in the AHOPE center range from infant to 15 year olds. They all test positive for HIV. Nowadays, these kids live vibrant, active lives due to anti-retrovial treatments. Which, when taken regularly, sends the disease into controllable remission.

Sadly, most of these kids will be brought up in the institutionalized setting. As these kids can now survive and manage their HIV, the challenge that is now evolving is how to best prepare them how to live long term with the illness. This is a serious challenge for Ethiopia which has a 5% prevalence of HIV in the general population.

We visited the AHOPE center and were impressed with the quality of attention payed to these children. They obviously were flourishing under the attention and medications. These kids, like children everywhere in Ethiopia, loved attention. On the playground their eyes light up and broad smiles stretch across their faces as we played "kick the soccer ball". Squeals of joy and laughter build as the kids became comfortable with us and they start to play with each other.

Although these kids are getting the love they desperately need from the care takers and volunteers at the center, there are many, many more children waiting placement into the AHOPE center. AHOPE would love to expand their services, but resources are limited. The children are not only receiving medical care, but older children are getting some education on how to survive in the world, get a job, and live within society once they are too old to stay at the orphanage. The staff is working with families of HIV + children, and lending them assistance and medications so the children are able to stay with their families.

Christy and I have asked ourselves what can we do?

According to the director, both funds and supplies are needed. This has inspired us to hold a fund raising party at our house on Valentines Day (Feb. 14).

Come one, come all. Meet the newest member of Hopkins family and dig into your pockets for a worthy cause.

AHOPE has ambitious plans to provide care and services to this growing population of children. Thus they need our donations. Please feel free to email me for more details.

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