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'Father' of Aids Orphans in Kenya Dies

Fr Angelo D'Agostino SJ, a Jesuit priest, well-known for his care and protection of Aids orphans//in Kenya passed away on Monday at the age of 80.

He was the MD, founder and medical director of Nyumbani Children's Home, a centre for abandoned HIV-positive children.

Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko AJ of People for Peace in Africa, paid the following tribute to Fr Angelo D'Agostino SJ He said, "Father D'Agostino is not only remembered for his courageous move to take the Government of Kenya to court in 2004 for refusing to admit HIV-positive orphans to primary schools, but also for his sacrifice and dedication to serve these children.

"Father D'Agostino has died at a time when one big question facing the continent is how to care for an estimated 10 million Aids orphans, a number expected to soar to 30 million within the next decade. Not only are many of these children usually abandoned and destitute, but many are themselves HIV-positive.

"Nyumbani was D'Agostino's brainchild. The idea of founding Nyumbani (a Swahili word for home) came about in 1992 when D'Agostino saw in the streets of Nairobi how important it was to take care of destitute and abandoned children.

"Kenya is among the countries hard hit by the Aids crisis, with 2.3 million HIV/Aids cases between the ages of 15 and 49, according to United Nations statistics, out of a total population of 30 million. More than 1.5 million Kenyan children have been orphaned due to AIDS, and some 300,000 orphans are themselves HIV-positive.

"It is very unfortunate that D'Agostino has died before fulfilling one more of his dreams to construct a model village for Kenya's Aids orphans, matching them with another frequently marginalized group - the elderly. The idea was to build a village for roughly 300 grandparents caring for 1,000 orphans."


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