Sunday, August 19, 2007
One of the many effects HIV/AIDS is having on communities in Africa is the increased number of orphans due to the death of one or both parents. Traditionally orphans were absorbed into their extended families, and while it was unfortunate that one or both of their parents had died, they experienced about the same quality of life than they would have had with their own parents. However, by 2005, there were approximately 12 million orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS living in Sub-Saharan Africa. This high number put too much strain on the ability of extended families to take care of all these orphans. Now many of those who are orphans are forced to fend for themselves. Lundamatwe Village, along with six other villages, is located within the Kilolo District. Kilolo District has about 3,000 orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS. Project Kesho has been working with the Lundamatwe School to identify and develop a plan of action for making sure that the orphans in the village are able to maintain a decent standard of living and also keep attending school. We meet some orphans during our first week here. When we were passing out shoes to the kids at the Lundamatwe School we noticed two young boys whose feed were literally being eaten by chiggers. Chiggers are a small worm-like animal that lives in the dirt but needs to bury its eggs in a host, generally in the feet of humans. The egg sacks are easy to spot and remove before they hatch. However, if the eggs do hatch they can infest your body. One little boy, Usepho, had chiggers so bad on the heels of this feet that whole chunks of skin were just hanging off the back of his feet and they were so bad around his toe nails that the nails were ready to fall off. During the past month or so Project Kesho has been making sure that he and his brother Narasco, have been receiving the medical care that they need as well purchasing supplies for them such as socks, soap, eggs, new school uniforms, and Elliot also donated his sleeping bag so that they would be warmer at night. We were told that they were orphans living far from the school with their aunt. We decided to visit their house to see what their living situation was. On Saturday the three of us piled on Elliot’s motorcycle again to ride out there. They live in a part of Lundamatwe called Ruaha, in the far southwest part of the village. We decided to clock the distance to see how far they were walking everyday. It turns out that they live almost five miles from the school! The community of Ruaha is located in the upper right hand corner of the following picture where the ridge in the background angles down and ends. The picture is taken about 1 mile or so south of the Lundamatwe School. After asking numerous people for directions, parked the motorcycle and walked the last half mile are so on foot to find their house. They were busy playing with friends from a neighboring house. We got them all to pose together for some pictures. Usepho and Narasco are on the left in the pictures. Usepho is taller. The three girls that are in the picture also walk the ten miles each day to attend school in Lundamatwe. Not only are their feet almost completely heeled, but their skin in general is much healthier and their hair, which was patching and falling out, is healthy and growing like it should be, and their eyes are no longer hollow.