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Why is ECOC Important?

Graphic displaying issues AIDS orphans cope with, ranging from costs of education, to social stigma, to superstition
What issues does an AIDS orphan cope with?

AIDS orphans cope with a variety of challenges in their everyday lives, including growing up without a family, trying to meet the costs of education, a common lack of medical care, and stigma and ostracization within their communities.

Through the Every Child is Our Child program, all Unitarians and Universalists (UUs) can help turn UU principles into action by fostering the hopes and dreams of children who have suffered from the devastating consequences of HIV/AIDS.

A wider look into the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Ghana’s education system, and the lives of HIV/AIDS orphans.

HIV/AIDS in the community

Ghana is among the top 13 countries in Africa with the highest proportions of AIDS orphans. More specifically, the Manya Krobo area of Eastern Ghana was chosen for the Every Child program because it has the highest concentration of HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphans in Ghana.

Beyond these high rates, there are a number of intertwining social factors prevalent in the community that contribute to the spread of HIV, making the Manya Krobo districts an ideal candidate for ECOC. Some of these factors include:

  • High illiteracy rates: Many locals--AIDS orphans in particular--cannot afford the basic costs of attending school. As a result, rates of illiteracy are high in this community. High rates of illiteracy can be attributed to high spread of HIV, according to this UNESCO campaign.
  • Taboo surrounding discussion of sex. Because sex is an uncomfortable topic of discussion in this community, discussion of safe sex and disease prevention methods often go undiscussed as well. Thus, many children and adults do not know how to avoid spreading or contracting HIV.
  • Poverty: As mentioned above, high poverty levels in the community make education unobtainable for many children. This also limits the number of people who can afford basic healthcare, which makes rates of HIV/AIDS rise.

Education in Ghana

Ghana’s complete education program includes six years of primary school, three years of junior secondary school, and three more years of senior secondary school. Education is heavily funded by the government, accounting for a large portion of the national budget. However, while 1.3 million children are now enrolled in primary school, only about 107,600 (8.3%) of these students move on to enroll in secondary school (World Bank 2007). Additionally, children orphaned by AIDS are often left without adequate support or money to attend school.

Read on!

More online resources with insight into HIV/AIDS.