What comes to your mind when you hear the words "AIDS orphans"? Do you imagine a skinny, destitute African child with matchstick legs? Is he or she young -- maybe 7- or 8-years-old? Are there flies in the child's eyes? What do you think would be the best way to help this child? Should you send money to an orphanage that can provide food, shelter, clothing, and education? How about a mission trip to bring soccer balls and medicine? What about international adoption as an option?
Popular American conceptions about so-called "AIDS orphans" are based largely on well-intentioned but ultimately inaccurate portrayals about who children affected by HIV and AIDS really are.
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But the next time you are thinking of taking a mission trip to visit "AIDS orphans" in Africa, don't pull a Madonna and try to rescue anyone. I hope that you will pause, remind yourself not to use the phrase "AIDS orphans" anymore, and take the time to examine some of the vast technical resources that are available to anyone who is interested. There are far better ways for you to invest your time, money, and compassion.
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