Who We Are

Mission

Students at Mamelo Primary School

Students at Mamelo Primary School

The AIDS Orphan Care Vision:

To improve the lives of African children orphaned by HIV/AIDS…

by providing them with the same things we want for our own kids—

  • food
  • clothing
  • a warm bed
  • an education
  • health care
  • and the knowledge that somebody cares

How?

We partner with local, dedicated people in Lesotho with:

  • an effective, hands-on approach to serving orphans
  • the highest ethical standards
  • child-centered projects with few administrative costs

We partner with people like you who want your donation to go directly to orphans’ needs:

  • no salaries
  • minimal overhead
  • no waste

Just your money helping an orphan eat better tonight, stay in school, and grow up healthy.

Founder’s Story

Our family in Lesotho, together with colleagues. I am in the blue sweater.

Our family in Lesotho, together with colleagues. I am in the blue sweater.

In 2008, I packed up my family and moved to Southern Africa for a year.

For many years before, I had been wondering what I could do to help in the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  It sounds ridiculous, I know.  40 million people worldwide with HIV/AIDS—what could I do?  But I have this annoying conscience that kept whispering, “Maybe you can’t do everything, but at least do something.”

I tried working in HIV research.  I tried an HIV clinic in southeastern Massachusetts.  But my conscience kept pushing me to help out at the epicenter, in Africa.

So we packed up and went to Lesotho, which has the 3rd highest HIV rate in the world.  This little country of just 2.2 million people has more than a quarter of a million HIV-positive people.  12,000 HIV-positive children.  110,000 AIDS orphans.

I spent the year working at Tsepong HIV Clinic, an awe-inspiring place that registered its 10,000th patient while I was there.  As a nurse midwife and HIV clinician, I took care of people of all ages, from newborn babies to elderly grandparents, and everyone in between.  Pregnant women.  Teenagers.  Toddlers and their parents.

But often, too often, children came without parents.  Ten-year-olds got themselves to the clinic.  A 16-year-old brought his little sister.  A tired granny carried in her orphaned grandchild.

And I started to wonder what else I could do to help.

Of course we were already helping, by giving the kids HIV care.  The medicines were free and so were the visits.  But the families had to get to the clinic. They had to borrow money from their food budget to travel by bus, or walk for many hours.  If the child was coughing, they had to come up with $2 for a chest X-ray to begin TB treatment.  If the child needed hospitalization, they had to pay.

At the same time, I was seeing orphans on the street.  At the market, homeless boys would jostle each other to carry my groceries—hoping for a tip that would allow them to eat that day.  An orphaned teenager approached us to ask for assistance with her school fees.  And my children came home from school at least twice a month reporting that yet another child’s parent had died.

It would have been really depressing if I hadn’t met Rebecca.  Rebecca and I worked together at Tsepong.  An interpreter and a support staff member, Rebecca was the one everyone called when they needed extra help.  When a child needed admission but had no one to stay with her, Rebecca would convince another mother on the pediatric ward to look after the new child.  When a 10-year-old came by  himself, she would make sure he got home safely.  When a preschooler kept defaulting treatment, Rebecca would sit with the caregiver to sort out the problem.

All of which was inspiring enough.  But Rebecca was also HIV-positive herself.  A single mother of 3.  And raising, together with her sister Paulina, 3 other orphans from their village.  Not to mention the 2 others who lived with their disabled grandfather but came to stay with Rebecca every weekend, for respite.  She sent them home on Sunday afternoons with food for the week and whatever clothing she could spare.

For awhile, until the money ran out, she and Paulina even ran a nightly feeding program for the 68 orphans in their village.

After meeting Rebecca, I realized that I didn’t have to figure out how to help the orphans.  People in Lesotho already know how.  They’re already doing it.  But the need is so great that they can’t do it alone.

And that’s where we come in.

I’m back in the United States now, drinking water from the faucet without boiling it first.  Feeling lucky to have heat in winter and plenty of food.  Feeling lucky that, unlike people in Lesotho, I don’t have to worry about dying before my children grow up.

My time in Lesotho was supremely worthwhile.  But I realize now that you don’t have to go to Africa to help people with HIV/AIDS.  Or to make a difference for the orphans left behind.

To begin with, I’ve chosen 3 orphan care projects in Lesotho to support.  Peanut butter for malnourished HIV-positive children.  A primary school founded especially for HIV-positive children and orphans.  And Rebecca’s work with orphans in her community.

As we raise more money, we can expand beyond Lesotho, to other countries devastated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  To other places where orphans are waiting for someone who cares.

Let’s begin.

Fiscal Sponsors
ICRI LogoAIDS Orphan Care is fiscally sponsored by the International Child Resource Institute. ICRI works to improve the lives of children and families around the world.

We focus on early childhood care and education, children’s rights, empowerment of women and girls, maternal/child health, and grassroots community development.

ICRI’s credo is “we only go where we are invited,” and all of our programs advance local leadership and promote community collaboration.

Since ICRI was founded in 1981, we have developed or operated over 300 programs in over 50 countries, all with the goal of empowering the village to raise the child. To learn more please visit www.icrichild.org.

Why Fiscal Sponsorship?
AIDS Orphan Care decided to seek fiscal sponsorship from a like-minded nonprofit organization rather than seeking 501(c)3 status ourselves to save time and money. With ICRI’s sponsorship, we were able to launch directly into fundraising for AIDS orphans, without waiting for a lengthy IRS approval process.

ICRI’s nonprofit status enables you to make tax deductible donations to AIDS Orphan Care. And with ICRI’s nearly 30 years of experience helping children and families around the world, you can be sure your donation will reach the children you want to help.

Deborah Kutenplon
Nurse Midwife
Director, AIDS Orphan Care