HIV-Positive African Families Create Memory Books To Help Orphans Connect to Past, Cultural Tradition
African mothers and fathers who are dying of AIDS-related illnesses are using "ordinary binders with plastic pages that allow written messages, photographs or anything else with sentimental value to be stuck inside" to create memory books for the children that they will leave behind when they die, the New York Times reports. The memory books are "becoming an increasingly popular way" for Africans to pass down family history and cultural traditions that historically are "handed down face-to-face" through stories, songs and ceremonies. Parents can receive training on how to make the books, which can be a time-consuming task, especially for people who are suffering from chronic illness. Advocates of the books, an idea that was originally started by cancer patients in Britain, said that the books can help fill the "emotional void" AIDS orphans face after losing their parents, "even if their own futures are cut short by the virus, as is often the case." AIDS experts estimate that there are 11 million AIDS orphans in Africa alone, according to the Times (Lacey, New York Times, 4/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.