Guest Commentary by Brianne Broyles
Today, I’m sitting in a Starbucks outside of Atlanta, typing on my MacBook laptop, sipping on an iced green tea and munching on a reduced-fat turkey egg-white breakfast sandwich. I’m looking at my iPhone and my car keys sitting next to my notepad on the table. I already drank a cup of coffee this morning at my house. It didn’t take long to choose clothes to get dressed for the day; my only debate was which pair of sandals to wear, both of which look admittedly similar. I drove in my recently repaired Camry this morning, and I plan on driving it again multiple times today. I’m hoping my search for a parking spot on campus won’t be too hectic when I arrive today.
Today, a twelve-year old boy wakes up early on the floor of his home in Mukuru, a slum outside of Nairobi. He pushes on the thin piece of wood that is the door to his tin sheet-walled home. He’s planning on scouring the nearby market to find some pieces of chapatti bread for his five younger siblings. He doesn’t know who his father is; his mother recently died of AIDS. Three of this boy’s siblings are HIV+. He is now the head of the household, with no current means of making more than two dollars per day. This minimal amount means that the boy and his siblings can no longer study at their local school, as the required school uniform costs ten dollars. The cost is too high; elementary education is not an option for this family.
I wish I could say that I think about the vast difference between my daily reality and another’s often, but I can’t. I can, however, decide to care; this decision is dangerous because it requires action, and generally of the heroic type.
The orphan epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa continues to grow due to the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS and other diseases. UNICEF has estimated that there are 18 million orphans on the continent that now face increasingly desperate challenges: a lack of quality health care and education, poor nutrition, diminished safety and increasing poverty. Young girls are especially at risk for rape, abuse and violence. HOPE worldwide is an organization that has worked with vulnerable children throughout Africa for 25 years, providing care and support to over 170,000 orphans in Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa.
What do you have to do with this? Well, there happens to be one particularly great opportunity to show that you care, and believe it or not, capes are required.
The Alpha Omega campus ministry at Kennesaw State wants to invite you to participate in the annual “Superheroes for Orphans” 5k Walk/Run to raise funds for orphans in Africa. The event is Saturday, October 8 at 9am at Georgia Tech. Many of our favorite superheroes (Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc.) are orphans themselves. Just like the orphans in Africa today are our heroes, we want to be heroes to them, too. You can donate a few dollars (or more, by all means!) to this important work, or you can participate in the 5k yourself, preferably dressed as a superhero! Your support will help provide food, educational materials, health care, staff training, capacity building and program development for these child-focused programs in Africa.
Brianne Broyles is a Kennesaw State alumna