There are 48.3 million orphans in Africa (www.uneca.org). The continent of Africa is second, only to Asia in the number of orphans. The three main contributing factors to an increasing number of orphans in Africa are: disease, poverty, and an increasing number of runaways.
Disease is the greatest cause of orphans. There are many diseases in Africa, but none of which compare to AIDS. The numbers are astounding with 24 million infected Africans. About 6,000 people in Africa die each day from the virus (www.globalissues.org). The infected people have children, and when those people die, their children are left without parents. The reality is that the majority of orphans originate from losing parents to Malaria, HIV, AIDS, and other sicknesses common in Africa. As the diseases progress, children are born infected. As these children grow older and have children of their own, they will die, leaving their children orphaned just as they were. Because of limited medical and educational influences in their lives, the cycle of disease continues to affect each generation.
Most families in Africa suffer from severe poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 239 million of the 925 million impoverished people in the world (www.worldhunger.org). Often, parents can hardly afford to survive themselves, let alone provide for their children. Sadly, parents will abandon their children leaving them to fend for themselves. There are many cases in which an older brother or sister is left to take care of many younger siblings. The children must end up picking through garbage dumps, and living on the streets. Many times these children will not survive. Again, the lack of education and limited resources in Africa harm the children of these impoverished families.
Children that grow up in completely impoverished villages will think that if they can make it to a larger city, such as Nairobi, Kenya, then they have a better shot at creating a life for themselves. Therefore, they will run away. There are approximately 10,000 street dwellers in Nairobi, many of which include young men and women that came from smaller villages and cities (www.irinnews.org). Once the children leave, they find that life is not much easier in the big cities. Many will turn to drugs, alcohol, vandalism, or theft even at a very young age. Once again, we have the cycle of orphaned children being repeated.
The sad reality of orphans in Africa is both a broad and a deep social problem, not just affecting Africa. In America, we tend to turn our heads from major problems, and we ignore the fact that we can help. There are many organizations in Africa that dedicate all of their time to helping orphans break the cycle. You can help make the difference. Cards for Kenya is dedicated to helping the Mattaw Orphan Village. With every card we sell, we are helping an orphan which in turn helps all of Africa. www.cardsforkenya.org