BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Karen Allen:
"His 26 year old mother, Lydia, is dying of Aids"
 real 56k

 real 28k

Friday, 7 July, 2000, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Zambia's generation of orphans
The number of orphans is increasing in Zambia  as Aids cases soar.
As Aids cases soar in Zambia, the number of orphans is increasing
In this special report from Zambia, the BBC's Karen Allen examines the plight of children who have been orphaned by Aids ahead of the International Aids conference.

At eight, Emmanuel Kalunga is now the head of the family.

His mother Lydia, 26, is dying of Aids, the same disease which has killed his father and young brother.

Lydia has just a few weeks to live and her disabled mother is too frail to help.

They are desperately poor and often go for days without food.

Lydia Kalunga, Emmanuel's mother, is dying of Aids
Emmanuel Kalunga's mother is dying of Aids
Emmanuel's job, says Mrs Kalunga, is to care for them both.

"Emmanuel is not in school," she says.

"He has no clothes, no shoes, no blankets.

"I do not know what Emmanuel will be in the future if I die."

For a few precious moments, while playing football with friends, Emmanuel is allowed to be a child.

Growing up quickly

Emmanuel must look after his dying mother and frail grandmother
Emmanuel (foreground) must look after Aids victims
In northern Zambia, youngsters grow up fast.

One in four has been orphaned by Aids.

Poverty and unemployment lie at the root of the problem in a country where 500 people are infected with HIV each day.

The disease is systematically eroding an entire generation, leaving the children behind.

Education may offer some hope but school is out of the question for Emmanuel. The lack of a breadwinner in the family means no money for fees.

Since they can't pay for their school, they're going to remain uneducated and because they are going to remain uneducated, they will remain poor

Chanda Fikansa, Christian Aid

Chanda Fikansa of Christian Aid says that some charities are trying to help, but there are thousands of other children in the same situation.

"Since they can't pay for their school, they're going to remain uneducated," he says.

"Because they are going to remain uneducated, they will remain poor... and even more vulnerable to getting infected."

A few years ago, the children would have been absorbed into other families.

However, the problem is now so overwhelming that homes are taking over.

By end of next year, 13m children in Africa will be have been orphaned by Aids.

Selling sex

A large number of orphans, like Mable and her twin sisters, Tangu and Nyuma, turn to prostitution.

They were abandoned in their teens when their parents died.

Mable, a prostitute: If I'm not doing anything, I will continue until I die
Mable, a prostitute: If I'm not doing anything, I will continue until I die
Mable Banda says that they know the risks, but the reality is that they must eat.

"At last, the only solution I thought was maybe to go on the street, in the bars and disco houses to find money," she says.

"I must find something to do to support me which I will depend on but if I'm not doing anything, I will continue until I die."

Valuable work is being done to divert orphans off the street with income generating programmes, such as a company which has been set up to make greeting cards for export.

However, it is not nearly enough.

Zambian orphans face an uncertain future
Zambian orphans face an uncertain future
There is a real fear that without help on a global scale an escalation in the number of orphans will have catastrophic consequences for Zambia.

Because of the virus, Zambian parents are dying younger. Few live beyond the age of 30.

For Emmanuel, who has no education and no job prospects, it is difficult to see how his generation will be better off than his parents.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

04 Nov 99 | Aids
Aids up close
08 Jul 99 | Aids
Aids drugs factfile
26 Jun 00 | Africa
At the heart of an epidemic
29 Oct 99 | Crossing continents
Zambia's orphaned generation
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories