Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) are slowly become an emerging population. Approximately 2.5 million children are orphaned or have HIV/AIDS. Not surprisingly is that 90% of these live in Africa…..did I mention that this yearly?
Presently, there are 15 million children under the age of 18 who are classified as OVC due to some dire situations. There is an expectancy of approximately 40 million OVCs by 2010….well that is what like a year away…The obvious reasons are that they lost both parents, but this goes further. These children are child soldiers, slaves, those who have HIV/AIDS or are sole caretakers of their parents who have contracted this disease. Statistics show that for every child that is affected by war and natural disasters, there are 7 children who are orphaned….
It is amazing how society seems to ignore these children. Maybe the more is the pathetic excuse of why they are not being taken care of- indifference. Everyone wants to claim that its not their responsibility, especially since most of society has put the responsibility on the parents. But we are affected by the conditions of these children and their futures or potential futures affect our overall being. This is probably why the UN has put much emphasis on taking care of these children.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the main human rights instrument that is relevant to the OVC crisis. According to them, they have outlined the best way to tackle this situation….
• The best interest of the child: In each decision affecting the child, the best interest of the child must be a primary consideration. This principle is of direct relevance to OVC where decisions are being made regarding their caretakers, property and future. The principle also extends to other matters that concern children, including development policies and the allocation of public resources.
• Non-discrimination: All children should be given the chance to enjoy the rights recognised by the CRC and the ACRWC. States must identify the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children within their borders and respect, protect and promote the rights of these children.
• The right to survival, well-being and development: This principle emphasizes the need to ensure the full development of the child at the spiritual, moral, psychological and social levels.
• Respect for the views of the child: Children have the right to participate in all matters affecting them and their views must be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity.
Obviously, this is not the case in many places. Without an education, they have little or no chance of ever escaping destitution. The sense of hopelessness, as well as the existence of economic pressures to provide sex in exchange for food or poor health care increases the chance of the children not only contractng diseases like HIV/AIDS, but also having little or no hope for a future.
If we keep throwing the responsibility of the children to someone else-more or less tossing back and forth, then who is to take care of them? How are we going to have a bright future, when the future is not being taken care of? Whether we like it or not, these children are the future, and if we do not start seriously taking care of them, we are going to be spectators of society falling apart.