Silver Spring, Maryland-In recent months, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and its partners have distributed nearly $270,000 worth of shoes, food and clothing to orphans, vulnerable children, and adults affected by the current food crisis and the HIV/AIDS pandemic plaguing the southern African nation of Swaziland.
ADRA distributed footwear to 8,000 people, a donation valued at $100,000 provided by Pittsburgh-based Brother's Brother Foundation, an international charity. A clothing distribution project worth $111,000 also benefitted an estimated 5,000 adults and children who received clothing outfits. In addition, some 3,000 vulnerable children received nutritious rice and soy-based foods, which were made available by Kids Against Hunger, a Minnesota organization working worldwide to fight hunger among children. This portion of the project is valued at more than $56,000.
"The food portion of the distribution is especially important," said Nkhanyiso Gamedze, country director for ADRA Swaziland. "The casserole rice has had a positive effect on the nutrition of the children."
Due to malnutrition, an estimated one-third of Swazi children fail to achieve normal growth during their first five years of life, resulting in stunting. ADRA is working with the World Food Program (WFP) to combat hunger in Swaziland by distributing food items to orphans and vulnerable children, including corn meal, beans, vegetable oil, and Corn Soy Blend (CSB), a vitamin-enriched product used to improve severe malnutrition. In addition, ADRA is helping impoverished households have better access to food through the promotion of small gardens and underground water harvesting projects, which can benefit residents and farmers alike.
ADRA collaborated with Swaziland's Ministry of Regional Development and Youth Affairs to identify potential beneficiaries. Project participants included primarily orphans, children of single parent homes, impoverished families, and children who must financially support their families due to their parents' terminal illness or disability resulting from HIV/AIDS.
"The current situation here in Swaziland regarding the HIV/AIDS epidemic is devastating," continued Gamedze.
According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, or UNAIDS, Swaziland has the highest prevalence of HIV in the world, estimated at 26 percent, ahead of Botswana and Lesotho. Approximately 50,000 children have lost one or both parents to AIDS, and 60 percent of those admitted into hospitals present a HIV/AIDS-related illness. In the mid-1990s, the average life expectancy in Swaziland was 51; it has since dropped to 39 years, due to the onslaught of AIDS. The spread of HIV among young adults has further weakened Swaziland's already troubled economy, which in turn has exacerbated a growing food crisis.
ADRA has been an officially registered organization in Swaziland since 2002, implementing activities benefiting HIV/AIDS affected communities, in addition to distributing food and clothing, building and renovating homes for the elderly, providing tuition assistance to low-income families, and giving access to free health services in rural communities.
ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity.
Additional information about ADRA can be found at www.adra.org.
Media Contact: John Torres, Senior Public Relations Manager, ADRA International 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904 Phone: 301.680.6357 E-mail: Media.Inquiries@adra.org