How ZCF is helping AIDS orphans in Zambia

The Zambian Children’s Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to raise and educate orphaned Zambian children. Every child is provided with food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education and skills training, giving them an opportunity to become healthy, productive members of Zambian Society.

In 1999, Kathe Padilla flew to Zambia to see how she could help the growing number of orphaned children living on the streets of Lusaka. With a group of concerned Zambian professionals, she organized the first Board of Directors of what came to be the Chishawasha Children’s Home of Zambia(CCHZ). Kathe returned to the U.S. and incorporated the Zambian Children’s Fund (ZCF) to work as a sister organization to CCHZ to help with fundraising. ZCF was granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status by the (U.S.) Internal Revenue Service in 2000.

In May 2000, CCHZ was recognized by the Zambian government as a charitable organization. The first program, called Home-Based Support, was started in 2001. This program helps orphaned children stay in school. Many of these children live with grandparents or other family members. After going through an interview process, CCHZ provides the child with uniforms, shoes and school supplies and pays the necessary school fees.

By 2004, CCHZ purchased 15 acres of land outside Lusaka and began building. The current campus now contains seven houses that provide shelter for 70 children, a 12-classroom primary school, a chicken house and a large garden. In addition, we recently started a Skills Center, where the children are taught sewing and carpentry. Support comes from the Colin B. Glassco Foundation, working groups in Ithaca, NY and Nashville, TN, a ZCF chapter in Canada, and individual donations from thousands of people all over the world.

To read more please visit


Some of the children being cared for at the Chishawasha Children’s Home of Zambia (CCHZ)

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The problems faced by AIDS orphans

All information provided below is from AVERT. AVERT is an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK, working to avert HIV and AIDS worldwide, through education, treatment and care. Website:

The problems faced by AIDS orphans

Emotional impact

Children whose parents are living with HIV often experience many negative changes in their lives and can start to suffer neglect, including emotional neglect, long before they are orphaned. Eventually, they may suffer the death of their parent(s) and the emotional trauma that results. In this case, they may then have to adjust to a new situation, with little or no support, and may suffer exploitation and abuse.

Household impact 

The loss of a parent to AIDS can have serious consequences for a child’s access to basic necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, health and education. Orphans are more likely than non-orphans to live in large, female-headed households where more people are dependent on fewer income earners. This lack of income puts extra pressure on AIDS orphans to contribute financially to the household, in some cases driving them to the streets to work, beg or seek food.


Children orphaned by AIDS may miss out on school enrolment, have their schooling interrupted or perform poorly in school as a result of their situation. Expenses such as school fees and school uniforms present barriers to school attendance if orphans’ caregivers struggle to afford these costs.

The loss of a productive family member is likely to be a financial burden and might push a family into poverty, increasing the likelihood that a child orphaned by AIDS will miss out on school. Moreover, most orphans and their caregivers still do not receive any type of external support in the form of healthcare, nutrition, or psychosocial support.

Outside of school, AIDS orphans may also miss out on valuable life-skills and practical knowledge that would have been passed on to them by their parents. Without this knowledge and a basic school education, children may be more likely to face social, economic and health problems as they grow up.


Children grieving for dying or dead parents are often stigmatised by society through association with AIDS. The distress and social isolation experienced by these children, both before and after the death of their parent(s), is made worse by the shame, fear, and rejection that often surrounds people affected by HIV and AIDS. Because of this stigma, children may be denied access to schooling and health care. Once a parent dies children may also be denied their inheritance and property. Often children who have lost their parents to AIDS are assumed to be HIV positive themselves, adding to the likelihood that they will face discrimination and damaging their future prospects.

Family structures

In African countries that have already suffered long, severe epidemics, AIDS places pressure on families and communities. Traditional systems of taking care of children who lose their parents, for whatever reason, have been in place throughout Sub-Saharan Africa for generations. But HIV and AIDS are eroding such practices by creating larger numbers of orphans than have ever been known before. The demand for care and support is simply overwhelming in many areas. HIV reduces the caring capacity of families and communities by deepening poverty, through medical and funeral costs as well as the loss of labour.

The Way Forward

Keeping children in school

Schools can play a crucial role in improving the prospects of AIDS orphans and securing their future. A good school education can give children a higher self-esteem, better job prospects and economic independence. As well as lifting children out of poverty, such an education can also give children a better understanding of HIV and AIDS, decreasing the risk that they will become infected. Schools can also offer benefits to AIDS orphans outside of education, such as emotional support and care.

Empowerment for children

If AIDS orphans are as active members of the community rather than just victims, their lives can be given purpose and dignity. Many children already function as heads of households and as caregivers. They are a vital part of the solution and should be supported in planning and carrying out efforts to lessen the impact of AIDS in their families and communities.

Meeting emotional needs

The physical needs of orphans, such as nutrition and health care, can often appear to be the most urgent. But the emotional needs of children who have lost a parent should not be forgotten. Having a parent become sick and die is clearly a major trauma for any child, and may affect them for the rest of their life.

The AIDS epidemic in Zambia is among the worst in the world. Under the twin pressures of poverty and disease, many extended families (which traditionally care for vulnerable children in Zambia) are breaking down.

“It’s very hard to find a family in Zambia that hasn’t been personally touched. It’s very hard to find a child that hasn’t seen or witnessed a death related to HIV/AIDS. The extended family in the community structure, they’ve really broken under the weight of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and poverty, and when the burden becomes too great, families are unable to cope anymore, and so we’re seeing tremendous numbers of orphans and children who are no longer able to be cared for by their extended family.”

In September 2003, Stephen Lewis, then UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, spoke about the AIDS orphan problem:

“… in Zambia, [we] were taken to a village where the orphan population was described as out of control. As a vivid example of that, we entered a home and encountered the following: to the immediate left of the door sat the 84-year-old patriarch, entirely blind. Inside the hut sat his two wives, visibly frail, one 76, the other 78. Between them they had given birth to nine children; eight were now dead and the ninth, alas, was clearly dying. On the floor of the hut, jammed together with barely room to move or breathe, were 32 orphaned children ranging in age from two to sixteen… It is now commonplace that grandmothers are the caregivers for orphans.”

“The grandmothers are impoverished, their days are numbered, and the decimation of families is so complete that there’s often no one left in the generation coming up behind. We’re all struggling to find a viable response, and there are, of course, some superb projects and initiatives in all countries, but we can’t seem to take them to scale.”

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The impact of HIV and AIDS on Zambia

All information provided below is from AVERT. AVERT is an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK, working to avert HIV and AIDS worldwide, through education, treatment and care. Website:


An ‘orphan’ is defined by the United Nations as a child who has ‘lost one or both parents’. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 16 million children under 18 have been orphaned by AIDS. Around 14.8 million of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa.  Even with the expansion of antiretroviral treatment access, it is estimated that by 2015, the number of orphaned children will still be overwhelmingly high.


Zambia, in southern Africa, has one of the world’s most devastating HIV and AIDS epidemics. More than one in every seven adults in the country is living with HIV and life expectancy at birth has fallen to just 49 years. In 2009, nearly 76,000 adults were newly infected with HIV, that is about 200 new infections each day. After four decades of independence, Zambia has found peace but not prosperity and today it is one of the poorest and least developed nations on earth.

Zambia’s first reported AIDS diagnosis in 1984 was followed by a rapid rise in the number of people living with HIV. Although the HIV epidemic has spread throughout Zambia and to all parts of its society, some groups are especially vulnerable – most notably young women and girls. Among young women aged 15-24, HIV prevalence is nearly four times that of men in this age category.


The impact on children

Children have been much affected by the AIDS epidemic in Zambia, where 120,000 children are estimated to be infected with HIV.However, being HIV infected is not the only way that children are affected by HIV and AIDS. In 2009 there were 690,000 AIDS orphans in the country and AIDS orphans made up half of all orphans in the country. Children may be abandoned due to stigma or a simple lack of resources, while others run away because they have been mistreated and abused by foster families.

In 2003, it was revealed that increasing numbers of child rape cases were being fuelled by the “virgin cure” myth (which wrongly claims that sex with a virgin can cure AIDS). A 2005 study by the Applied Mental Health Research Group (part of the John Hopkins School of Public Health) reported that child sexual abuse was “a major problem” among the HIV-affected population of mothers and children studied in Lusaka, Zambia.


The impact on economic productivity

The impact of AIDS has gone far beyond the household and community level. All areas of the public sector and the economy have been weakened, and national development has been stifled. As Zambia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper acknowledges, “the epidemic is as much likely to affect economic growth as it is affected by it”.

The loss of workers due to AIDS can lead to a large reduction in a nations economic productivity. Agriculture, from which the vast majority of Zambians make their living, is particularly affected by the impact of AIDS. A decline in the number of individuals able to work at the crucial periods of planting and harvesting can significantly reduce the size of the harvest. AIDS is believed to have made a major contribution to the food shortages that hit Zambia in 2002, which were declared a national emergency.

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January Update from CCHZ

Our Executive Director, Kathe Padilla, just arrived back home to Tucson after a successful trip to Zambia, here is her update:

“We had a very good Board meeting yesterday. For the first time, the Board here in Zambia is going to try to meet every month in 2012. They have some very good ideas to try to get more information about CCHZ out to large businesses and the general public here in Lusaka, as well as trying to have a concert with popular Zambian singers. Phillip and I took a group of the older children, and a few employees out to the site where we still hope to have the secondary school. We also brought 100 seven foot posts and worked on digging post holes and managed to get them all put in around our property lines for the fence. We had hoped to get started on a field growing soybeans, but delays in plowing and the fact that local farmers had planted large areas in corn stymied our efforts, even though Phillip had asked people in the local village not to plant on our land this year. The villagers explained that those who were asked not to plant on our land didn’t, it was other local farmers.”

Kathe also took some video of the older girls in their Skills Class where they were learning to sew. If you would like to see the video please click on this link to go to the ZCF Facebook page:


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Kathe’s update from Zambia…the rain has begun!

Executive Director, Kathe Padilla, has landed safely in Zambia and has already hit the ground running. She will be there for over a month. She look a Flip video camera with her this time so we look forward to seeing some great footage from the Chishawasha Children’s Home. Her latest update is below….

Yesterday we had our first really big rain of the season.  The rains have been few and far between so far, so yesterday’s was very welcome.  Zambia is starting to green up, but not way it usually is by now in January.  Our corn is only a few inches high and everyone was starting to get concerned that the rains might not come.  But yesterday’s rain was a great beginning.  It felt like we must have gotten inches of rain within minutes – certainly within the hour or so that it dumped from the heavens.  I also got inches here in the house because my windows don’t close well and it was blowing so hard it was even coming in from beneath the door.  This morning is a beautiful perfect morning with a clear sky and the birds singing and the bees humming.

School started here at the Glassco Primary School yesterday also.  This first week we have only half days so the children are all here from 8 to 13 hours only.  We still are trying to hire a couple of more teachers, which means we are understaffed at this point.  The teachers are figuring out which children will go into which classes and we are taking in a few new little ones as we decide where there are openings in the houses.

Many of the children just returned to Chishawasha this past weekend.  They have been home on holiday with their families.  So everyone is looking forward to the new school year.

I will stay in touch as the electricity and my schedule allow.  Kathe

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Help Make a Difference for 160 Orphaned Children!

Are you interested in helping the Zambian Children’s Fund raise and educate orphaned children?

Your support helps us raise and educate children between the ages of 18 months and 20 years at the Chishawasha Children’s Home of Zambia who have lost both parents. Please help us to provide a loving home and education so these kids can grow up to be skilled, healthy, self-sufficient Zambian citizens.

There are many ways to help! Help spread the word, get others involved, sponsor a child, volunteer, make a donation, etc.:

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For more information on sponsoring a child or volunteering click HERE


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Unique gifts that make a positive difference: Please join us for the Int’l Arts & Crafts Sale!

Are you looking for unique gifts this holiday season that help make a positive difference in the lives of children?

The Zambian Children’s Fund and the Guatemala Acupuncture and Medical Aid Project (GUAMAP) are hosting an International Arts and Crafts sale on Sunday, December 11th! Please join us 10:00 am- 3:00 pm, at Rincon Church, 122 N. Craycroft, Tucson, AZ.

Featuring fine arts and crafts from:  Zambia, Guatemala, Central America, Mexico and the Southwest. Textiles, carvings, jewelry, beads, stone lithographs, calendars, fair trade coffee and much more!   Mexican plate lunches by Maria Garcia of La Indita restaurant!

All proceeds support the Chishawasha Children’s Home in Zambia and acupuncture training in northern Guatemala

If you are interested in being a volunteer or vendor at the sale, please
email  or call  (520) 561-5866. (Volunteers and vendors will need to arrive by 9am to set up)

For more information on the Guatemala Acupuncture and Medical Aid Project please visit

For more information on the Zambian Children’s Fund, please visit



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