Reporters on the Job

Why AIDS Orphans? Staff writer Scott Baldauf was moved to explore the topic of AIDS orphans after a friend, a foster mother, told him of the passing of her 8-year-old foster daughter.

"Her story was powerfully moving, and I wanted to meet some of the 1.2 million children who had been orphaned by AIDS. Most of all, I wanted to meet the real heroes in South Africa: the families who have made sacrifices to take in children left behind. They don't get the same attention as doctors finding cures, or multimillionaires funding research, but their contribution makes a difference," he says.

His guides for this story were the social workers of Roodepoort Child Welfare Agency. They introduced him to two families and they stepped back to allow these two families tell their stories.

"It takes courage for a family to open up their lives to a reporter and a photographer," says Scott, "to talk about very personal stories of loving family members, of risking marriage in order to take in children, to talk of faith and disappointment. I worried that they would be uncomfortable and unwilling to discuss such details. But they understood the importance of telling their stories.

"I remember our first interview with Olga. She cried as she spoke about her past as an unschooled child, and her dreams for her own children. We found ourselves getting teary eyed just listening to her," he says.

Scott writes about the African concept of ubuntu, or sacrifice of one's own ambitions for the greater good of the community. He says: "I would like to think that there is a little bit of ubuntu in all of us (see story).

– David Clark Scott

World editor

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