About Lesotho, Part 3, Children and AIDS
UNICEF now estimates that as many as 200,000 of Lesotho’s half a million school aged children and young people are orphans, having lost one or both parents to the AIDS epidemic. The number is ever increasing.
- Orphans and other vulnerable children are most at risk from the ongoing food crisis.
- Infant, under-five and maternal mortality rates have all increased significantly since the early 1990s.
- Only 2,000 of the approximately 56,000 people who need anti-retroviral therapy are receiving it.
- Girls’ school enrolment rates have been dropping; many girls have been compelled to quit school to care for younger children or other family members because of the death of a parent.
With no parents, children are left to be looked after by elderly relatives. Many of them have to head households from a young age, caring and providing for younger siblings. This responsibility means children cannot go to school.
With the number of orphans increasing, resources to care for them are being stretched. 30 % of orphaned children are estimated to be out of school and thus are being exposed to abuse and exploitation.
Left to survive on their own, Lesotho’s orphans are forced to undertake hazardous forms of labour like herding, domestic work or commercial sex, just to survive.
There is no national social welfare net sufficient to care for and protect these orphans and vulnerable children who are increasingly in need of help. (source UNICEF)
Sentebale‘s mission is to transform the lives of Lesotho’s orphans and vulnerable children – the forgotten victims of poverty and of the HIV/AIDS epidemic ravaging their country.
* The description above provided by Sentebale.