In South Africa, the public school system is so overcrowded and underfunded that it’s not uncommon for students to sit in multi-grade classrooms with 40, 80, or even 100 peers, struggling to learn. Our nation’s students lack access to the basic supplies – up-to-date textbooks and teaching resources – as well as the skilled teachers their Western peers take for granted. In addition, children are expected to speak and perform lessons in English as early as the fourth grade – when most will have acquired only rote training in the language. As a consequence, some 92 percent of all children will drop out before reaching high school.
Now consider the plight of our country’s AIDS orphans. With no parents or financial resources, these children struggle with the very real and daily challenge of hunger. As they sit in crowded classrooms, AIDS orphans may not have eaten at all that day – or even for multiple days – due to dire poverty. And our public schools are not prepared to feed them daily meals. As a consequence, older children who serve as the heads of their households will likely not attend school at all, as they must spend their time finding food and ensuring the survival of their families.
Vulnerable children, on the other hand, may be fortunate enough to have one or more living parents. However, their families also struggle with grinding poverty due to unemployment or menial jobs. As a consequence, these children face hunger on an ongoing basis.
To learn and grow, AIDS orphans and vulnerable children need to be in an environment where their basic needs are met – food, shelter, and protection. Mukhanyo Christian Academy will help meet these needs by providing the orphans with nourishing meals every day and vital healthcare services, placing them in homes with foster parents where they can flourish, and giving them a first-class, college preparatory education.