A COUNTRY IN TRANSFORMATION AND AN EMERGING CRISIS
Many of the political and social transformations in the new, democratic South Africa are very positive and have turned it into a country recognized and admired throughout the world for its multicultural and dynamic society and the ability to overcome its traumatic past through forgiveness and reconciliation.
At the same time however, South Africa is witnessing the emergence of a crisis of enormous proportions. The number of people falling victim to or being affected by the HIV/Aids epidemic is growing rapidly. The World Bank warns of a dramatic loss of "human capital" and is predicting the "total collapse of the economy in only three generations".
This crisis does not only affect South Africa on a political or economic level, but it creates a human tragedy for hundreds of thousands of of children orphaned and left to fend for themselves at a young age through poverty, illness or Aids. They are part of a generation growing up without the societal and cultural heritage of their parents.
According to the WHO and UNAIDS South Africa is currently the country with the second highest number of people infected with HIV/Aids. More than 5,5 million people are already living with the virus, which is 18,8 % of the adult population (older than 15).
Every 1,6 minutes Aids claims another victim in South Africa (320.000 per year), and every 3,2 minutes another child is orphaned. According to UNAIDS there will be 2 million orphans by the year 2010. In the rankings of average life expectancy South Africa occupies a shocking place 213 out of 221 registered countries worldwide. The average life expectancy of 42,5 years is 23 years below the world average (Source: CIA Factbook 2007).
A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY
When one recognizes how many people in the townships of South Africa are confronted daily with poverty, illness, violence and the spreading Aids epidemic, one also realizes that we have a shared responsibility to act.
We cannot expect the government to shoulder this responsibility alone. This crisis must be tackled by an initiative of private and corporate donors, social workers, teachers, doctors as well as Non-Governmental and Governmental Organizations working together.
We have thus decided to play our part in tackling this crisis through founding the children's project VULAMASANGO - Open Gates.