This past weekend I attended an annual Braai (barbeque) supporting the Friends of NOAH USA organization. NOAH stands for Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity. This organization is run by a close family friend, Susan Mackay who is originally from South Africa. NOAH’s mission statement says that, “the purpose [is] providing resources to children in South Africa who have been orphaned by AIDS, including physical, educational, psychosocial, and general healthcare support. In addition, Friends of NOAH will work to provide communities with the knowledge, skills, and strategies to form and run successful community-based organizations to support vulnerable children." This organization is based in South Africa and it supports orphans by providing them with their own community of care for themselves that is called Ark. Ark is made up of two key elements, one being leadership in the community and the other is obtaining volunteers. These volunteers provide services that provide food security, home visits, and referral systems. These systems provide care that we consider to be easily accessible in the United States. They are supported and collaborate with over 20 different organizations and donors. These donors provide comprehensive care.

Ubuntu means "the people" or "the community." It is a principle that is held very closely and dearly to the people of South Africa. When a group of people are united together with a common belief such as Ubuntu, then the group has the ability to join together to create a space the fight for a common cause such as the fight against the AIDS pandemic. Vusimpilo was construction that was completed, and now in that center there are 240 children who are looked after every single day. They are provided with meals and counseling. This is to ensure that they do not turn into street children. Local women work at Vusimpilo and they help the children daily. These women also work to make beautiful handcrafted beadwork to sell for extra money. Their work varies from keychains to necklaces. They help to make extra money to provide for themselves and the Vumpsilo. 

The AIDS pandemic has affected nearly 5.21 million people in South Africa, meaning South Africa has the highest rates of AIDS in the world. It took off because there was disbelief in the previous administration about the disease. It was deemed a "social disease," and that means nothing, as we know. According to UNICEF, there are more children left orphaned by AIDS in South Africa than anywhere else in the world. It was estimated that in 2016, there were 770 deaths per day. These statistics show that there are children and adults who are affected by AIDS and HIV even in a more developed African country such as South Africa. The AIDS pandemic is not something that is going to go away solely in a few years. It is believed that by 2050 the AIDS pandemic will be the largest in all of human history to be detrimental to mass populations in developing countries. There are over 60 different strains of one version of HIV. Currently a vaccine is being tested to cover these strains. Mothers are being given these vaccines so that they don't pass the disease to their children. Increased research and support can lead to someday curing this disease. 

The hope is that one day we can provide enough care every single day for orphaned kids so that they can have the most successful future possible. With the support from sponsers, volunteers, and donors this goal will be more and more attainable with each step.

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HCXO, Cecilia