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Hear Our Voices - Southern Africa Region - Lesotho

Food aid helps AIDS orphan Khoali

 Khoali is 12 and lives in Ha Raphiri, 100-kilometres south of Lesotho's capital Maseru He walkes 10-kilometres from school to his home: an empty, single-room house with no running water or electricity, no mother or father. Khoali and his twin brother Khoalnyane live alone and have had to fend for themselves since their father died of AIDS-related tuberculosis in 1998 and their mother died of the same cause last year. Of their three sisters, one lives in another village working as a domestic servant; another works in a factory and helps out when she can; and their 17-year old sister spends her days away from home, somewhere. The brothers have names, memories and one lone photograph of their mother. And they are part of a growing category of young people in Lesotho - children orphaned by AIDS.

UNICEF and the Government of Lesotho are particularly concerned about children orphaned by HIV/AIDS - and are giving them top priority in food distribution. Khoali and his brother are among the first to have received a monthly allotment of 50 kilogrammes of maize, five litres of beans, fish oil, cooking oil and sugar. A report co-written by UNICEF last year showed that 75 per cent of all orphans, some 143,000, were children orphaned by AIDS, many belonging to child-headed households like Khoali's.

For Lesotho, the drought is a crisis on top of another crisis in a country that can't afford either. For UNICEF, dealing with the drought on a backdrop of a society crippled by HIV/AIDS poses its own new challenges among them to ensure UNICEF supplies reach the children who need them.

The brothers both attend school because their school fees are being paid for by a local non-governmental organization. Khoali is in Grade 4. His favourite subject is English and he dreams of being a doctor someday.

As the sun begins to set over Ha Raphiri, Khoali and his brother are getting ready to eat dinner. The day ends very much like it began: with no father, no mother, and none of their sisters at home.

Photo: UNICEF

 

Copyright  2003  UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs