The orphan crisis in Africa is entering a new stage of urgency. In addition to the fact that there are now nearly 16 million orphans, the age of these orphans is another critical factor. The epidemic is entering it’s 20th year and many of these orphans are aging out of the support programs they were once in.
They go out into a world with very few opportunities. Boys without job options may grow frustrated and turn to drugs or gangs. Girls with no options often turn to prostitution, and the vicious cycle repeats.
A disproportionate share of the AIDS burden falls on the shoulders of African grandmothers and other family members. These women see their grown children return home sick and dying of AIDS. Their orphaned children now require care and support from their elderly, often enfeebled grandmothers.
This is where Ujamaa steps in. Identifying these grandmothers and aunties within the community, offering training and loans geared to their needs and challenges. This unique model pairs older less capable orphan caretakers with stronger caretakers and gives them both microloans to start businesses.
The collective strength carries the group to success and self-sufficiency, enabling them to care for their orphaned grandchildren.