Photo: Stuart Productions
Project: Development Aid from People to People in Zambia (Children's Town)
Location: Lusaka, Zambia
Moses Zulu is a dynamic 40-year-old with a winning smile and extraordinary determination. In 1990 Zulu opened Children's Town to serve Zambian children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic and other causes. He is devoted to helping these orphans find their way in life.
The program has grown from a handful of children living in tent shelters to almost 300 children and a staff of 22 living in six different houses. The grounds include a primary school and a community center. Zulu's vision includes a plan to make Children's Town self sustaining.
Zulu offers hope and inspiration to his young charges. "At our core," he says, "we enable our children to have dreams, to believe in themselves and to take responsibility for their lives."
What Does Children's Town Do?
According to UNICEF, by the end of 2004, nearly one million children were AIDS orphans. Many come from rural areas and, after their parents' deaths, they are force to flee to African cities, where their only means of survival may be working as a street vendor, or resorting to crime or prostitution — behavior that brings an extremely high risk of contracting AIDS and other illnesses. In Zambia's capital, Lusaka, alone, it is estimated that there are more than 75,000 AIDS orphans
For these children, basic needs are unaffordable luxuries. They have no childhood, no time to play, no future. They are overwhelmed by chronic illness, lack of shelter and frequent abuse by adults.
Children's Town is a residential education and vocational training institution in the African village of Malambanyama, Zambia, designed to give some of these children basic life skills and hope for the future.
Each child goes through a five-year program in which they are taught life skills, responsibility, values and self-care. They graduate with vocational training in agriculture or crafts and business management, as well as a ninth-grade diploma.
Children's Town has trained more than 90 students in agriculture, 50 in business and 400 in agribusiness. They are socialized, taught academic subjects like reading and math, and given practical skills like running a farm and doing carpentry. Children also attend counseling sessions and steel band rehearsal and interact with the local community at least once a week.
Although the future looks bleak for many African children, Moses Zulu's Children's Town provides an oasis of hope and a vitally important example for how poor countries with high numbers of orphans can respond with humanity and compassion to the next generation of the AIDS crisis.