CRS Launches $9 million HIV/AIDS Program

( [email protected] ) Apr 19, 2004 12:06 PM EDT

Baltimore, MD – More and more Christian humanitarian groups are actively engaging in reaching out to communities and families that have been devastated by HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Recently Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have been awarded a $7 million grant by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which will be used with $2 million of CRS’ fund, to support the five-year program to help 56,700 orphans and vulnerable children and nearly 10,220 families at risk around the world, and provide training to thousands of caregivers of various faith-based organizations in their communities in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, and Haiti.

CRS’ five-year program is hoping to improve nutritional and health status and increase enrollment in schools within the first few months. The four main goals of the program include:

1. Strengthening the means and ability of families to cope with problems brought on by the AIDS crisis

2. Mobilizing community-based responses

3. Enhance the capacity of children and youth to meet their own needs

4. Raising awareness within communities to create an environment that supports children affected by HIV/AIDS.

CRS will form an Action Learning Unit for evaluation process of the program and will oversee and manage the programs across the African continent in Nairobi, Kenya.

“One of the greatest tragedies we see with HIV/AIDS is the children it leaves in its wake, and the devastating impact, economically and emotionally, on the communities struggling to support them,” said CRS President Ken Hackett. “Over the next five years, we hope to expand our existing programs to invest in the resources available to these children, and in the people who will be raising and nurturing them.”

The statistics reveal that in Kenya, twelve percent of children have already lost one or both parents to AIDS and this number is expected to increase to 2.3 million by 2010. Nearly ten percent of Tanzania’s adult population is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and more than 800,000 children are orphans. In Zambia, where almost 50 percent of the entire population is under 20 years old, 20 percent of its productive age group has HIV/AIDS, and orphans account for ten percent of the population. Haiti has the highest HIV prevalence rate in Central America and the Caribbean, with an estimated 260,000 to 335,000 cases, and 200,000 orphans.

Catholic Relief Services has been involved in HIV/AIDS programming in Africa, Asia, and Latin America since the late 1980s. Since that time, CRS has supported more than 300 HIV/AIDS projects in 40 countries around the world and currently supports over 160 HIV/AIDS projects in 31 countries, reaching approximately four million people. CRS is marking its 60th year this year.