When you hear about the pandemic crisis of Zambia, you can get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the problem. The numbers and statistics are staggering. One Zambian relief organization sums up the crisis well...
Zambia is one of the African countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS. About 19 percent of children under 18, or 1.1 million, are orphans, most of them due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. About 70 percent of the population earns less than US$1 per day, so families, communities and schools are overstretched in their efforts to care for children. Many households are now headed by children, as young as eleven, who are forced to forego the education they need to prepare for a harsh economic environment, as they struggle to care for their younger siblings. (zambiaorphans.org)But when you travel to Zambia and begin to meet the individuals (as opposed to the raw data), you begin to see people - not numbers. And it moves you to action.
Shadrach is the little boy on the far left (above). Last year Mike and Kristi Despard travelled with us to Shadrach's village. When we got there, here is how we found Shadrach...Shadrach had a growth on his neck that was growing and incredibly painful. But his mother (his father is dead) had no means of getting him help. And so Mike and Kristi got him to the clinic in Serenje and were able to purchase the antibiotics to treat his infection. Without this intervention, Shadrack may have become another "statistic."
When I got to Kamena this past week I looked for Shadrach and was overjoyed to find him alive and well. I took a ball that Mike and Kristi had sent for him. One more little boy had been spared because of the compassion of God's people. Shadrach escaped becoming a "statistic."