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Kiwi Pair Shocked By Aids Problem In Mozambique

Media Release December 6, 2002

Kiwi pair shocked by Aids problem in Mozambique village

The two New Zealanders on a quest to enter every nation in the world in 160 days have been shocked by the desperation of Aids in a Mozambique village in Africa.

Auckland’s John Bougen said the experience was ``sobering and thought provoking’’.

Bougen and his cousin James Irving are trying to visit all 193 countries in the world in 160 days. They are past the halfway mark

Their 24-hour visit to the village was in the Namuinho barrio on the outskirts of Quelimane, Mozambique’s fourth largest city.

The intrepid duo are supporting Save the Children charity as they attempt to travel 200,000km, spend 400 hours in the air and move in and out of 200 different airports.
Save the Children New Zealand has been funding a pilot HIV/Aids education programme in the village.

It has taken up to a year of concerted effort to get all members of a village talking openly and honestly about how Aids is transmitted and the measures to prevent becoming infected.

The task is made even more difficult because of ingrained local sexual taboos, superstition and the myths relating to the catch and cure of Aids.

The direct ramification of HIV/Aids is enormous, John Bowis, Save the Children New Zealand's Executive Director,
said today.

More than 1.2 million children in Mozambique are orphans – an astonishing 1 in every 6 children.

``By 2010 the number of orphans is predicted to rise to 1.82 million. Of this number, 60 percent of the orphans will have lost their parents to Aids,’’ Mr Bowis said.

``One in eight of the population of Mozambique is HIV positive.

``Empowering the local people to avoid or minimize the devastating effects of HIV/Aids is crucial, but there are major obstacles.

Mozambique is deemed to be a developing nation by world standards.

Its ‘civil war’ that ended in 1991, completely devastated the country in so many ways that its fight against Aids has been severely compromised,’’ Mr Bowis said.

At the end of the war only 6 Secondary schools in the entire country remained operational.

There is a need for 6000 schools with only 600 having been built in the last 10 years. The problem is worsened by their ability to train a mere 600 teachers a year. The introduction of fully staffed schools is decades away.

Projections in 2001 forecast life expectancy would rise to 50.3 years by 2010, but current predictions - because of Aids – actually have that figure dropping to 36 years in 2010 (down from its current 40 something). The figures are lowered by child deaths. Some 12.5% of children die before the age of 5 years from natural causes.

Save the Children is striving to remove the stigma of Aids and encourage communities to live and let live.

But myths abound, such as:

1. Aids is transmitted by mosquitoes, so those with Aids are turfed out of the villages before mosquitoes can further spread the disease.
2. A HIV positive person can contaminate the water, which normally comes from a central well and is the most vital of resources.

3. Chlorine brings cholera – the link being that aid agencies distribute chlorine when there are major cholera problems. Therefore, by extension of that logic, condoms bring HIV.

4. Having sex with a virgin will cure Aids. The virgins get younger and younger as more are used.

HIV/Aids is having a devastating impact on life in most of sub-Saharan Africa.

Of the 40 million people infected with HIV/Aids worldwide about 28 million are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr Bougen said as part of their quest to entry every nation in the world, they are putting together a book featuring an image of a child from each country they visit.

``We are also asking the children ‘What do you dream of for tomorrow?’

``In Mozambique the answer from one of the children photographed was simple and devastatingly poignant: “I dream of having food.”

``If New Zealand people have an opportunity to give to Save the Children, don’t hesitate. Just do it.’’

Their route is South America, through North America across
Iceland to Europe and eventually through Africa and Asia.

They plan to arrive back in New Zealand on February 1.

Mr Irving was born in Christchurch and his home is in Brisbane. Mr Bougen was born in Timaru but has spent most of his life in Auckland.


For further information contact: Save the Children New Zealand
Phone: (64)(4) 381 7573

Or Kip Brook, Word of Mouth Media NZ , 03 374 5426

© Scoop Media

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