It’s always interesting to see what stories some news outlets will obsess over. One thing is a guarantee: they tend to prioritize negative events. Ratings are the main goal, and good news – particularly from overseas – simply does not always interest a mass of viewers.
This is why you’ll rarely hear about the amazing stories I have witnessed while in Kenya. You’ll seldom hear a story about a group of adults who spent a whole week serving in a place like Kenya.
You probably won’t hear about the many Kenyan grandparents who are sacrificially caring for children who have lost their parents to deadly diseases like AIDS. The news is unlikely to report about the mission organizations and local churches using their resources to care for vulnerable children. You’ll rarely read about the numerous people working to keep families together through education and access to medication.
But positive stories like ours do exist. In 2009, an ordinary group of people from Frazer United Methodist Church went to Kenya. We saw extreme poverty and met innocent children growing up without family stability, and we could not turn away, particularly from those children vulnerable to illness and orphaned by AIDS.
These acts of service seem very small and unimportant when compared to the latest political scandal or celebrity divorce. Yet, most of these news stories being reported on today will be quickly forgotten. And most of these stories have very little eternal significance and minimal effect on God’s redemptive purposes. But from God’s perspective, one act of love from one person has incredible importance and worth.
Sadly, losing one or both parents to AIDS is a common experience for children in Kenya. Of the more than three million orphaned or vulnerable children in Kenya, over a million are orphaned because of the HIV epidemic. There are 1.5 million people living with HIV in Kenya, making it the fourth hardest-hit country in the world.
Imagine if more than one in three Alabamians was infected with HIV. That's the same number of people fighting HIV in Kenya, with about 78,000 new infections annually. The number of new HIV infections in Kenya alone each year is more than the population of Dothan. In addition, more than 70 percent of Kenyans are at risk of contracting malaria. Malaria is one of the deadliest infectious diseases around the world, taking a child’s life every two minutes.
While poverty and suffering on the other side of the world can sometimes feel out of our power here in America, we should feel proud of the progress we’ve made to fight the diseases that are taking their toll on innocent children like the orphans I’ve seen in Kenya.
Here’s the good news! In 2002, the U.S. government joined with other governments and private foundations to create the Global Fund, an innovative public-private partnership designed to end the three deadliest epidemics: AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.
Through Global Fund grants, Kenya has made great progress putting people on HIV treatment, reaching a million people living with the disease. Global Fund-supported programs have detected and treated 222,000 TB cases and distributed 21 million insecticide-treated nets to stop mosquitoes from transmitting malaria to Kenyans, particularly to children under the age of 5. Around the world, the Global Fund partnership has saved 22 million lives.
As a pastor, I believe every life has value, each face created in the image of his or her maker. I believe we have a duty to protect the most vulnerable, and especially children, around the world. While I have volunteered and adopted orphaned children, I recognize that as one man I can only do so much. We need to prevent a new generation from growing up without their parents by investing in global health programs like the Global Fund that can help end the world’s deadliest infectious diseases for good.
I’m extremely grateful that my representative, Congresswoman Martha Roby, has supported U.S. global health investments and the Global Fund, and I urge her to ensure that U.S. investments in these lifesaving programs are finalized when Congress returns to Washington.
With Rep. Roby’s leadership, U.S. funding can help end the epidemics that are taking parents away from their children. It is such a privilege to be a part of a movement that has a heart for serving others. God is working and active in profound ways around our world...it’s just that most of the time it doesn’t make the headlines.
Rev. Brandon Dasinger is Teaching Pastor at Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery.
This article originally appeared at https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/opinion/2018/08/27/reporting-good-news-children-need-around-world/1072954002/.