Christian Science Monitor, Reuters Profile Skills Training Programs for HIV/AIDS Orphans in Malawi, Swaziland
The Christian Science Monitor on Thursday profiled a car-mechanic school in Chiradzulu, Malawi, for children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. The program -- run by former grocery store and car-repair shop owner Yasin Mbuka "[i]n a shell of his old garage" -- includes lessons in "nitty-gritty" engine mechanics, as well as morning calisthenics and prayer, according to the Monitor. Twenty-seven students currently are enrolled in Mbuka's school, the Monitor reports. Many trained mechanics in Malawi's "struggling economy" have monthly incomes of about $15, according to the Monitor. Mbuka, who is HIV-positive, said he was motivated to start the school to help the children of friends who died of AIDS-related illnesses. According to Sarah Crowe of UNICEF's regional office in South Africa, home- and community-based programs such as Mbuka's are the most effective initiatives to help AIDS orphans. Malawi has an adult HIV-prevalence rate of about 14%, and the United Nations estimates that there are about 12.1 million children in Africa and 15 million worldwide who have lost a parent to HIV/AIDS (McLaughlin, Christian Science Monitor, 2/23).
Reuters Profiles Swaziland Farming School for HIV/AIDS Orphans
Reuters on Thursday profiled a U.N.-run farming school in Sithobela, Swaziland, for children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses. The school is part of the Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools, a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations project that aims to "wean children ... off handouts and help them become self-sufficient," Reuters reports. FAO in 2003 launched the Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools in Mozambique, later opening similar schools in Kenya, Namibia and Zambia, with the aim of reaching about 1,000 youths between ages 12 and 18. The school in Sithobela, where 25 children currently are enrolled, teaches farming skills, as well as lessons on personal hygiene, money management and HIV prevention. "As parents die early [of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses] they are leaving a knowledge gap," Khumbi Chinonge, who heads the Sithobela school, said. The school in Sithobela is the first phase of the project in Swaziland, which currently has five sites, and FAO plans to enroll 30,000 children who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS at 1,250 schools. Chinonge said he hopes students who do well will stay after their initial course is complete and learn to become commercial farmers or teachers at similar schools. Swaziland has an adult HIV-prevalence rate of about 40%, and official figures estimate that there are about 80,000 HIV/AIDS orphans in the country, although aid workers put the figure closer to 100,000, Reuters reports (Harrison, Reuters, 2/23).