Kwanele is just ten-years-old. Two years ago, his parents died from AIDS. ‘I used to be happy,’ he says. In rural South Africa, on the tip of an isolated village, Kwanele now lives in a mud hut with his brother and sister. Every day, he walks two kilometres to fetch water from a well and begs neighbours for scraps to eat. For the three of them, £20 per month doesn’t go very far.
Every year in South Africa, more than half a million people die from AIDS. And every day, the orphans like Kwanele left behind face another struggle. Currently, there are 3.37million children who have lost one or both parents as a result of South Africa’s AIDS crisis. Global attention has fallen away since the disease reached pandemic proportions in the 1990s, yet there are still more people infected by HIV in South Africa than anywhere in the world. And, left to fend for themselves, the children are barely surviving.
Which is why Grazia has teamed up with African Solutions to African Problems (ASAP) to launch our 2012 Christmas Campaign. By assisting the grandmothers, or gogos as they are known in South Africa, left in loco parentis, looking after their children’s children, and providing a meal, shelter and support for the orphans, ASAP helps orphans lead a happier life, day by day.
Drop-in centres in and around the Eastern Cape give children a safe place to enjoy a hot, nutritious meal, someone to talk to and a place where they can play without a care, forgetting for just an hour each day of the sadness that waits for them at home. There, children too poor to afford school uniforms are given them, grieving children are given psychological support and ASAP makes sure that everyone has access to health and social care.
Grazia went out to South Africa to meet the orphans who have been helped by the charity – and the ones that desperately need your help. Children like Kwanele, who cries when we ask him what his life is like, and like 12-year-old Mbali, who cannot tell us anything that would make her happy since she lost her mother to AIDS when she was six. She is also HIV positive.
But ASAP are improving her life. Twice per month, accompanied by her wonderful ASAP carer, Mantsouaki, Mbali walks ten kilometres to pick up the medication that she will take for the rest of her life.
ASAP, which was founded in 2003 by Priscilla Higham, already helps 500 women care for over 30,000 children – but there are thousands more in need. With your help, Grazia is aiming to raise enough money - £14,000 - to build another drop in centre in the Eastern Cape, in Kwanele’s region of Ponseng, to reach out and care for thousands more children. ‘There’s never going to be one answer to solving these children’s problems,’ Priscilla says. ‘But for children like Kwanele, this is one step that can help them live a happier life.’
To donate, please visit: http://africansolutions.org/donate/
Read the full story in this week’s issue of Grazia