The AIDS epidemic in South Africa is devastating families and communities. The country has the world’s largest number of HIV-infected people. There are an estimated 3.7 million orphans in South Africa – close to half of them have lost their parents to AIDS-related diseases and there are many more children living with sick and bedridden caregivers [or grandparents]. About 150,000 children are believed to be living in child-headed households. There is nothing more traumatic for a child than to see a parent die. Added to this tragedy is the loss of adult guidance and protection. Children without proper adult care are more likely to be abused and exploited. Many orphans and vulnerable children slip further into poverty once the family’s main breadwinner stops working or dies. Losing a parent or caregiver often means losing access to social grants, education and healthcare.
Currently, Meals on Wheels Community Services is feeding more than 1000 orphans daily via four of our affiliates. Our greatest service to this category, however, stems from the broad scope of our work. This brings us into contact with tens of thousands of suffering people daily and, if we are not equipped to help to relieve their challenge/s, we are usually able to refer them to those organizations in their community that specialize in the type of care they are needing. Few things give us more satisfaction than finding a place of shelter for an orphaned or homeless child.