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Canada Pledges $1M to Help AIDS Orphans
Nelson Mandela Children's Fund boosted by CIDA contribution

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CANADA announced again Wednesday it will increase its spending to fight AIDS outside the country.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will provide $1 million to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.  The funding will help 60,000 AIDS orphans and also offer early childhood education in some of South Africa's poorest regions.

The announcement was made by Minister for International Cooperation Maria Minna with Mr. Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, in association with the thirteenth International AIDS Conference underway in that country's city of Durban.

The new boost to foreign aid was applauded simultaneously in Toronto by the chief economist for the United Nations Children's Fund.

"The size of Canada's contribution to fighting HIV/AIDS internationally is near the top of the list of donor nations," said Jan Vandemoortele, even though it only represents one per cent of Canada's foreign aid budget.

Disenfranchised children form one-third of the world's 34 million HIV-infected people.  Only an international commitment to education and economic development will save future generations, the UNICEF official stated.

"We are committed to helping children in Africa overcome their obstacles and grow up to be healthy, productive adults," Minister Minna said in Johannesburg.  "I can think of no better man or organization to help us do that than Nelson Mandela and his excellent Children's Fund," she added.

Said Mr. Mandela, "At a time when the AIDS epidemic seems to be reaching truly alarming proportions, it is important for South Africa and indeed, the whole of Africa, not to become immobilized by the scale of the problem.  It is important to realize that there are things we can do, and for us to focus on those things.

"The grant from the Canadian government will help the Children's Fund to extend its programmes into remote areas of our country, and to intensify its work among the most vulnerable sectors of our society," the former South African president continued.  "We welcome the support of the Canadian government and Canadian non-governmental organizations as an example of the kind of international effort that our country and our continent needs."

The new funding will be broken down as follows:

  • $777,000 will help families and communities set up small, income-generating projects and will provide shelter and schooling to almost 60,000 AIDS orphans.
  • $223,000 will go to the International Development and Relief Foundation and the Canadian Friends of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund to support an early childhood development project in the Northern Cape and North West provinces.  Almost 800 children and their caregivers will benefit from this commitment.
The issue of AIDS orphans has been brought up at the Durban conference as a major problem.  In less than ten years it is estimated that 40 million children world-wide will have lost either one or both of their parents to AIDS.  Many of these children will also be HIV-infected themselves.