What do you do when there are 5 million orphans in the country; sick, hungry, and with 10 percent or more are HIV positive?
Missionary Reverend Mike Sunker and his wife Renu answered that question by helping those they could, through the Christ Church Christian Care Centre in South Africa.
Natives of India, the Sunkers converted to Christianity in 1975 and moved to Johanesburg a year later.
Sunker told Eunice Rotarians last week that amidst the rampant poverty and neglect he found in South Africa, he felt he had to do something.
“I had to choose whether to minister to children or adults, but I figured, adults can take care of themselves. Children out on the streets are so often victimized by drug lords or the sex industry,” he told Rotaarians.
Conditions have worsened, Sunker said, with immigration due to war in other parts of the continent, and a rampant AIDS epidemic that leaves many children orphaned at a young age.
“If the church does not take care of them, who will?” Sunker asked.
Sunker said the orphanage, located in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, provides housing and education for over 40 children; a small number, but one Sunker hopes will grow with more funding and support to house 500 children by 2015.
They attempt to provide for the physical, educational, social and spiritual needs of the chilren in their care, a daunting task.
“The trauma that some of thse little children have gone through, it’s unbelievable,” Sunker said.
A local hospital provides life-saving HIV treatment for the children at cost.
Children are referred by police, social services and hospitals whenever there is a vacancy, Sunker said.
The orphanage has also performed outreach to the countryside where conditions are even worse than in the city, building classrooms and providing other resources for the children who live there, many of whom head their own households, for lack of adult relatives.
The Sunkers are currently visiting locations in America to recruit support for their mission, both financial and in the form of short-and long-term volunteers.
Other support Sunker asked for is, “Please, pray for us.”
Sunker offered a quote from the New Testament, Matthew 19:15: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
More information can be found at the orphanage’s website: www.5cees.co.za.