Dave visited the Collegine Sisters of the Holy Family orphanage for children with HIV in Tanga, Tanzania in February 2011.
Thirty children from age 19 to 8-months-old lived at the orphanage, where the sisters try to make a normal home for them. Many of the children were abandoned or orphaned due to AIDS.
In 2011, an estimated 1.6 million Tanzanians were living with the virus, according to the UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2012. Nearly all of those infected, 1.3 million, were older than 15, according to the Tanzania HIV/AIDS and Malaria Indicator Survey 2011-12. Unfortunately, with the older population of AIDS victims, 1.3 million children were left orphans, according to Regions & Countries: United Republic of Tanzania Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.
Also, according to a UNICEF report, about 43,000 children are born annually with HIV. The sisters of the orphanage do what they can to help with the situation in their area.
“The orphanage was pretty nice, compared to others in that part of Africa. The children had mosquito nets and sanitation appeared sufficient. Construction was decent with appropriate overhangs to protect against the rains,” Dave said.
The head nun looked at the children as her children with all the love and pride that comes along with parenthood. Each child did chores equal to their abilities. The nuns also taught the children and helped the older children transition into higher education or a job.
At a nearby clinic, Dave played with several of the children. “I love playing with children. Children are the great equalizer and hope for the future. Several of the children engaged with me, but one little girl became my personal project. She hid from me on my first visit, but played ball with me on the second visit. What a wonderful change,” he said.
Next Dave traveled to Mamboleo Village to inspect a water well site. The team’s mission was to determine why fecal coliforms were found in the well, built several years earlier by the U.S. Army. “It turned out to be an easy investigation,” Dave said. The villagers grazed their animals near the well, leaving cow manure around it.
“I was most impressed by the dedication and love I saw in the foreign workers. By foreign I mean people not from Tanzania. Most were from the U.S. or Europe, but some came from other African countries as well,” Dave said.