Los Angeles Times Profiles South African Woman Whose Group Cares for More Than 100 AIDS Orphans
In South Africa, where an estimated five million people are HIV-positive and 500,000 children have been orphaned because one or both of their parents have died of AIDS-related causes, "child-headed household" is an official census category, although no one knows how many such households exist, the Los Angeles Times reports. Without "radical changes," the number of AIDS orphans is expected to quadruple by 2015, according to the Times. Carol Dyantyi, who runs the Soweto-based Ikageng Itireleng AIDS Ministry, and a group of 15 volunteers care for more than 100 AIDS orphans who live in the sprawling township. The group, which operates on a monthly budget of less than $1,000, pays the children's electricity and telephone bills, provides them with money to attend school, gives them clothes and brings food to them when their shelves are bare. Dyantyi said that the children, who face stigma from their communities and who sometimes make suicide attempts, are often the sole caregivers for their dying parents. "They are orphans long before their parents die," she said, adding, "They are little children, and they are parents to their parents." Dyantyi said that "[i]f it takes a village to raise a child, the village is frequently absent or hostile" in Soweto, according to the Times. "I wonder what is scaring people away from our kids. It is not the child who is responsible. It has nothing to do with the child," Dyantyi said, adding, "It's as if the whole country is in denial about what's happening here. And if it's bad now, just wait. Wait and see what these children become if no one cares for them" (Lelyveld, Los Angeles Times, 5/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.