World AIDS Orphans Day: "I dropped out of school to focus on petit jobs as a means of survival"

World AIDS Orphans Day:

The need to make ends meet has pushed several already vulnerable children into the streets.

Layla* (not real name) is a young Cameroonian who has had to learn how to take the bull by the horns at as an adolescent. This is because her father died when she was barely 18 years old and her mother had to rent a room for her to live alone because she remarried and her new husband wouldn't let her move in with her.

From the moment she knew her father was infected with HIV/AIDS, her life has never been the same again. "...the experience is still very frustrating.  Even when he was still alive, people would point fingers at me saying that 'that's the daughter of that Aids patient'. I was sometimes ashamed to visit his place of service because all his colleagues were aware of it.  Sometimes when he relapsed, I was insulted and scolded by the medical staff and even when I walked along the way I felt like everyone around me knew I was affected by HIV because of my father. The worst of it was to live with the idea that he could leave me at any moment."

Just like Layla* millions of children around the world are orphaned due to AIDS. "Every 15 seconds around the world, a child loses his father or mother from AIDS. According to UNICEF , there are 17.8 million children orphaned by AIDS on the planet." ( Already weakened and pained, these affected and sometimes infected orphans are often taken care of by other family members as the African tradition dictates. In many cases they suffer from isolation and discrimination, especially when they themselves are HIV positive. Others who are fortunate end up being taken care of by government or non-governmental organizations such as "Jeunesse Positive" who provide them with support and education so that they can reintegrate into the society and overcome all prejudice. But just like Layla*, some orphans are ignorant of the existence of institutions that can provide the assistance they need and they end up living in abject poverty and exclusion.  

Another example is of someone who was affected is a lady by name Jeanine whose father, younger sister and her baby, died of HIV/AIDS in 2009. Her infected elder sister who resides in Yaounde, is equally living with the disease and is supported by an NGO that she preferred not to disclose.

Doreen Sere penn

Reporter pigiste 100% Jeune