Wednesday, September 26, 2007

AIDS epidemic- its effect on South African families

In this piece, the changes to family structure in South Africa due to the deaths of young parents leaving behind orphans is explored.

"...[O]n May 26, 2005, Olga's sister Nono – a mother of four – died of AIDS. Since there were no other relatives to take in Nono's children, Olga took them in herself, and her family doubled overnight. In June 2006, Olga's family grew again, when Olga's aunt – a mother of two – also died of AIDS.

Hundreds of thousands of families in South Africa have faced both the grief of losing relatives to AIDS and the daily demands of looking after those they leave behind. South Africa has more children orphaned by AIDS than any other country in the world, with some 2 million South Africans having died of AIDS, and 5.4 million living with HIV, according to UNAIDS. Demographers describe South Africa's population as an hourglass, with a large number of elderly on one end and a large number of children and youths at the other end. In the skinny middle are a diminishing number of young adults, who are dying at the rate of 1,000 a day from AIDS."
-- via

The poverty level in these countries heightens the difficulties faced by those left behind. Taking in additional children, many of them young, who need to be fed, educated and dressed is a daunting task for those struggling to support their own families. The orphans taken in by Olga talk about how she is the only relative who treated them equally to her own children, providing them with equal portions of food.

If interested, please click on the AIDS label below to find organizations working with these families.

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