Thursday, May 7, 2009

World AIDS Orphans Day

Today, May 7, is World Aids Orphans Day. The magnitude of the orphan crisis overwhelms me to the point of paralysis sometimes. The statistics alone boggle my mind; I can't even comprehend the reality of these all these numerical digits connected to the word "AIDS orphans". Numbers like these...
  • There are over 15 million children orphaned by AIDS living around the world RIGHT NOW. 15 million is the equivalent to the number of all of the people living in New York, Paris, and Bangkok combined. That is an awful lot of children.
  • Well over 12 million AIDS orphans live in Sub-Saharan Africa, alone.
  • Experts believe that millions more orphans remain unaccounted for in India, China and Russia.
  • At least 10 million more children will be orphans by AIDS by 2010.

When we visited AHOPE we fell in love with the sweetest girl named Belane. We later learned that she was one of the first children to be adopted by a family in the U.S. Her mother is now working for AAI to facilitate the adoption of children at AHOPE and her blog post today is excellent and gives great ideas of what I, you, WE can do to make an impact. She includes this quote in her post from Rich Stearns, President of World Vision, US:

"I believe that this could very well be looked back on as the sin of our generation. I look at my parents and ask, where were they during the civil rights movement? I look at my grandparents and ask, what were they doing when the holocaust in Europe was occurring with regard to the Jews, and why didn't they speak up? And when we think of our great, great, great-grandparents, we think how could they have sat by and allowed slavery to exist? And I believe that our children and their children, 40 or 50 years from now, are going to ask me, what did you do while 40 million children became orphans in Africa?"

I think about my own son Elias, a former orphan. When I see him run and jump and feel him snuggle in to my neck to whisper "I love you Mom", I can't fathom the former life he had during the first 16 months of life. I can barely stand to think about the circumstances that led to his birth grandmother caring for him for as long as she could before she made the most unselfish decision on earth to take him to Sele Enat orphanage to be given up for adoption. I mean, it's almost phyically difficult for me to even type these words.

The reality is that now this boy is MY son and I have the honor to be his mom. I get to witness the way God's redemption and grace plays out in his life on a daily basis and the way he touches and loves people all around us, all the time. I get to laugh my head off at his funny jokes and fix him his favorite foods and drive matchbox cars around the couch together and even wipe his bottom.

But who is going to do that for the millions of children around the world who don't have a mom and dad to care for them?

I love the quote that AAI's director has as her tag line on her email signature: "Adoption doesn't change the world. But it can change the world for one child."

Adoption isn't the answer though. Solving the AIDS crisis is. Some might say you just don't have that "calling." I'd argue though that you do. We all do.

Don't know where to start? Here are a few ideas from Erin's post: Educate yourself and spread the word, sponsor an orphan, sponsor an organization that supports orphans and their communities, or even consider adoption.

There are lots of blog posts and articles today, May 7, about World AIDS Orphan Day. Maybe next year there will be even ten times the number, because many of us have spread the word. ANd perhaps even just two years from now, the statistics will be going down, not up. And a decade from now? Maybe there won't even be this World AIDS Orphan Day thing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Drop Off at the Governor's

Many people across Texas have been hard at work getting petitions signed to show support of the House Bill that will grant coverage for prosthetics for amputees. As I talked about here, this will have a huge impact on the lives of many, many amputees!

My mom was a champion, collecting signatures everywhere she went, including the mechanic and copy store. Thanks Mom!

Several thousand signatures were collected in just over a week. Last Friday we headed back to the Capitol to meet with a few others in the Governor's office to deliver the petitions.

It was great to see our new friends. The adult amputees are encouraged and energized by Elias and how incredibly well he is does with all his running and jumping around. And Elias equally enjoys being around these other amputees and checking out their cool prosthetics.

In Front of the Texas State Capitol
Presenting the Signatures to the Governor's Aide
Signing the Governor's Reception Book

Elias' favorite amputee friend, Frieda

The bill has officially passed through the Senate and will become final when it is signed by the governor in the next few days. Hoorah! This will be a huge benefit to Elias for the rest of his life and we are so grateful towards those who dedicated their time for the last two years to make this a reality for 30,000 amputees across the state of Texas.