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South Africa has more people infected with HIV than any country in the world. Women in South Africa are doubly affected by the disease. They far outnumber men in the number of new infections and are the primary caretakers of the sick and orphaned. The epidemic has put a heavy burden on the backs of poor woman and girls, yet their courage is inspirational.
In the sprawling township of Khayelitsha, Rosie Mashale, founder of the Baphumelele Centre, has taken in 64 children who have been orphaned by the epidemic. Some of these children are HIV-positive and require constant care. Many women from the community help Rosie care for her children.
Across the country, a young woman in the poor township of Kathlehong, has left school to care for her dying mother. They live in a tiny shack without electricity or running water. Volunteers from the Kopanang Care Centre visit daily with food and support. The women of Kopanang operate a daycare center for dozens of tiny AIDS orphans who are being raised by siblings - some as youngas eleven years old. This allows the older children to attend school and dream of a future.
These stories are not unique in South Africa.