HIV and AIDS: The impact on our future

2010 is a critical year for Nambia. No, it’s not because of the World Cup down in South Africa. No, 2010 means that we have 20 years left to reach 2030, the year we are supposed to meet all those objectives of Vision 2030, of our long term development plan. I may be still around when that happens. Medical science the way it is, some good luck and generally taking care of myself should do the trick. Even if I do get to cross that line, the critical cohort of our citizens will be today’s kids. Those kids who are 1 to 18 next year will be 21 to 38 in 2030. Social scientists like me constantly remind everyone that these are the years in which people make the largest contributions to the economy and society. Yet, today we know that at least 30% of those kids is an OVC, that’s shorthand for an Orphan or Vulnerable Child. Most of these kids got that way due to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. They watched one or both of their parents wither and die. The vast majority are thrust into a life of uncertainty. Some have to raise their siblings and keep a household together, some hang on to the good will of others. A recent study by our Ministry of Education shows that the majority of these kids have troubles in school. Hunger, poverty and stigmatization are some of the burdens these kids carry to school every day. Then there are the psychological handicaps. As a foster parent to an OVC, I can assure you that these kids can suffer long after they experienced the agony of becoming alone. Roughly one in three of the generation we expect to bring us to our Vision 2030 already has a stacked deck against their efforts to become productive adults. Over the next few years, this percentage could rise. So for us, as the contributors of today, we have to care for these children. If we don’t, the dreams we promised them twenty hears hence will only be dust.