HIV/AIDS is killing millions of people in sub-Saharan
Africa and has already left 15 million orphans. Some are taken in
by relatives. Many are not. Born poor, these children lack the basic
necessities of everyday life.
With vision, leadership and well-targeted resources,
their lives can change.
The vision behind our story begins with Godfrey Mahenge,
a medical student who planned to return to his village, Idweli,
to care for its nearly 250 AIDS orphans. Tragically, Godfrey died
in an accident before he could realize his dream. His friends and relatives took up the cause, and teamed up with the Lundy Foundation and a local Tanzanian nonprofit named after Godfrey.
The approach taken was unique.
Working together, we began by asking the children
to describe the greatest problems facing them in their daily lives.
Drawing pictures to depict their thoughts, the children identified
the loss of parents and other family members to HIV/AIDS. They envisioned
a center where orphaned children could be sheltered and fed. In 2005 Godfrey’s
Children Center was born from the children’s dreams.
In partnership with
the Rockefeller Foundation, we convened a team of evaluation experts
who designed and implemented a rigorous research program to measure
the impact of the Children’s Center on the village’s
orphaned and vulnerable children. We have piloted a research
methodology that can be used by other private and governmental
entities working to improve the well-being of children worldwide.
In addition, we advocated in Washington,
D.C., for legislation that would require recipients of U.S. foreign
aid to evaluate the impacts of the programs funded so we can determine whether America’s generosity is achieving the desired