(NC) November is adoption awareness month, a time where families all over Canada celebrate their decision to adopt a child. Yet the need for adoptive parents extends far beyond our borders.

Adoptive parents and guardians are an ever-growing need in many sub-Saharan African countries. Due to the prevalence of disease and poverty, over 11 million children under the age of 15 have had one or more parents die from AIDS.

To recognize the importance of this month and the need for adoption and resources in sub-Saharan Africa, here are five facts you probably didn’t know about the region:

1. In 2002, over 29 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were living with HIV/AIDS.

2. Approximately 12 per cent of all children in sub-Saharan Africa are orphans.

3. People living with HIV/AIDS are often treated as second-class citizens. Children whose parents currently have, or have died from, AIDS can be ostracized by their community, leaving them struggling to find a guardian or employment.

4. Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, even children who do have a legal guardian are at risk of becoming “double orphans.” Approximately one-third of Ugandan guardians caring for AIDS orphans are HIV-positive themselves, meaning the children they’re looking after may soon find themselves without a guardian once again.

5. Over 25 per cent of older children living with parents who have HIV/AIDS reported a significant decline in school attendance. Many children are forced to leave school early in order to care for their parents or to find a job that provides an income for the entire family.

While adoption is not possible for everyone, donating your time or sponsoring a child can significantly change the lives of orphans for the better. Beautiful World Canada is a Toronto-based charity that focuses on providing college and university scholarships to young women in Uganda, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. A large majority of the students Beautiful World works with are orphans who have little to no finances for school tuition and basic living necessities and have been taken in by grandmothers and other relatives.