SWAZILAND: AIDS orphans also stigmatised by poverty at school

Swaziland / World Mission

“MBABANE, 25 May (IRIN) – Twelve-year-old Mfanfikile looked forward to going back to school after nearly a year and a half of absence following the death of his mother. He wanted to look his best, and had found an old beige jacket in a wardrobe. Although several sizes too large, Mfanfikile thought it an improvement on the threadbare shorts and T-shirts he usually wore.

‘I got to school; the other children had nice clothes. They laughed at me; they called me ‘rags boy’,’ he related in a soft voice, still smarting from the shame.

Prior to her death, mostly likely from an AIDS-related illness, Mfanfikile’s mother had managed to scrape together money to buy her son school clothes by reselling fruit she bought at the market at her roadside stand.

Her income never allowed for shoes, but other pupils at his primary school in the central Manzini region were also barefoot, so Mfanfikile did not look different.

As part of a government and private donor effort to return the growing number of AIDS orphans to school, a benefactor paid the fees for him and several other children at his school, but the money did not cover items like clothing.”

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...