One of the saddest consequences of the reduced life expectancy of people in countries like Congo is that parental deaths lead to increasing numbers of orphaned children. Young adults die for diseases such as AIDs, a disease that ultimately kills both parents. War deaths and many other diseases inflamed by poor nutrition and poverty rob others of length of life. There are purported to be over 15,000 orphans in the city of Kinshasa alone.
Orphanages have been constructed by the government and various non-governmental agencies to try to help the children left without parents. As in many poor nations, orphanages can be a blessing and a curse. Some of them, reported in the international news, are so poorly run that children would be better off living on the street. Corruption and lack of resources strike them often leaving little food for the starving children who have taken refuge within their walls. Not all orphanages are harmful. Many serve the needs of children throughout the nation, but the problem is not easily contained.
Children often are left to fend for themselves on the streets of the city. They scrounge what food they can, competing with older children or banding together in gangs to share in their spoils. Children, such as these, are taken by rebels, in some countries, to become soldiers wielding automatic weapons. Young as they are, an automatic rifle kills regardless of who pulls the trigger. Other children are merely lost in the milieu of humanity, their lives cut short, unable to make it from day to day. Such a life is unimaginable in this country. Here a child rarely goes a day without a meal, even in the poorest areas. There are homeless children and adults, but we do not have the staggering numbers that are seen in nations such as Congo.
Solutions are hard to come by. As long as AIDs rages and poverty reigns it is unlikely that the situation will change drastically. As these nations, like Congo try to grow and advance, they must face this growing problem. These children, generations of them, are growing up on a lawless edge of society. They have developed amazing survival skills and, no doubt, sew seeds of discontent with the nation. Perpetuation of violence and rebellion is likely to be the result, unless these nations look inwardly to find ways to improve the lot of their people.by