Reuters on Wednesday profiled a project called the Stara School in the Kenyan slum of Kibera that works with AIDS orphans and their grandmothers, who often are left to take care of the children when their parents die. At least 12 million children in Africa have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses, according to United Nations figures. The number of orphans in Africa is expected to total 53 million by 2010, about 30% of whom will be AIDS orphans.
The Stara School -- supported by ChildsLife International, the World Food Programme and Feed the Children -- was launched seven years ago by a group of women in Kibera after friends died and left them to take care of their children. The school houses and feeds more than 500 children, and 70% of them are orphans. Many grandmothers come to Stara twice weekly to clean, and their grandchildren are able to attend the school. The premises are small, and classes often hold up to 80 children of several ages, according to Reuters. More than 30 of the children are HIV-positive and receive antiretroviral drugs -- which are supplied by vouchers from the school -- at a local clinic.
According to Reuters, grandmothers and projects such as Stara prevent many orphans in Kibera and elsewhere from living on the street or becoming involved in commercial sex work. Former first lady Barbara Bush, actress Drew Barrymore and singer Harry Belafonte are among those who have supported the school (Moody, Reuters, 11/28).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2007 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.