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New York Times Examines Program To Help Orphans Survive ‘Fragile Days Of Infancy’

The New York Times examines a program being offered at an orphanage in Tanzania that provides emotional and physical support for newborns and young children who are at a high risk of death after losing their mothers in infancy. “Africa is full of at least 50 million orphans, the legacy of AIDS and other diseases, war and high rates of death in pregnancy and childbirth,” the newspaper writes. “With the numbers increasing every day, Africans are struggling to care for them, often in ways that differ strikingly from the traditional concept of an orphanage in the developed world.”

The article details one such program being offered at the Berega Orphanage, where newborns are temporarily housed along with a teenage girl from their extended family through “the fragile days of infancy.” Once the infants are “big enough to digest cow’s milk and eat regular food,” they are returned to their villages,” the newspaper writes.

“Programs like the one in Berega are ‘the way to go’ in Africa, said Dr. Peter Ngatia, the director of capacity building for Amref, the African Medical and Research Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Nairobi, Kenya,” the newspaper writes. “He said similar programs for AIDS orphans had worked well in Uganda, looking after the children until age 5 and then sending them back to their families or volunteers in their communities.”

In addition to benefiting the babies, the program helps the teenage girls caring for them. The New York Times writes, “Many arrive illiterate and leave knowing how to read. [The program director] also teaches them the basics about health, and they learn sewing and batik, and share the cooking in an outdoor kitchen” (Grady, New York Times, 6/25).