By Kevin Sanders and Michelle Davey
The cost of a $10 dinner in Athens next week can help two AIDS orphans in Kenya -- some 8,000 miles away -- purchase their required school uniforms and open the door to an education.
For the millions of children orphaned by the Sub-Saharan HIV and AIDS epidemic, a mandatory $5 uniform can put education out of reach. Through the Kenyan Children's Fund Dinner, now in its sixth year, and other efforts, members of the Ohio University community hope to help some 2,000 children with that purchase.
The dinner is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, April 17, in the first-floor lobby of Irvine Hall. It is sponsored by the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Center for African Studies.
The Kenyan Children's Fund is an organization of OU-COM and other Ohio University students and faculty dedicated to helping educate and support children orphaned by the HIV epidemic in Kenya. Health organizations report more than two million people in Kenya are infected with HIV and, in 2005, the disease left 1.1 million children orphaned.
"HIV/AIDS is a difficult problem because we have more and more orphans every year," said Gillian Ice, founder and president of the Kenyan Children's Fund and chair of OU-COM's International Programs Advisory Committee. "Even if we didn't have increases in AIDS, those who currently have the disease will still die. This will further increase the number of orphans."
Past dinners have provided uniforms for more than 750 children, math kits for 900 children, schoolbooks for 600 children and a dormitory for Kenyan orphans.
Tickets cost $10 for faculty, staff and the general public, and $5 for students, and will be available at the door. A raffle will features prizes donated by local businesses. Raffle tickets cost $5 each or $20 for five. Monetary and other donations also are welcomed.
The benefit is being held in conjunction with an African Health Summit planned from 1 to 6 p.m. April 18 in Bentley Hall. The summit will highlight research, initiatives and activities related to African health issues that take place at or initiate from Ohio University.