Since 1990, 1.2 million people in Zambia have died as a result of AIDS. In a country of 14 million, such a high death toll has led to a breakdown in family units, with many children having lost one or both of their parents.
Elida was a young child when her father died, joining the 680,000 children in Zambia who have lost one or both parents to AIDS. After his death, she suffered physical abuse at the hands of her mother who regularly beat her, until, aged 12, she decided to run away from home. Elida took a bus to a nearby mining town, but found life there no easier than it was at home.
“Life on the street was harsh”
Elida travelled on to Lusaka, the capital, where she continued to live on the streets until she was discovered by Egmont’s partner, Vision of Hope, in November 2012.
Vision of Hope is the only organisation working exclusively with girls living on the streets of Lusaka. Its mission is to combat violence against street girls and provide them with a place of refuge and rehabilitation. Where possible, it seeks to reunite the girls it supports with their families. A critical feature of Vision of Hope’s intervention is ensuring the girls are able to receive a full education.
A Helping Hand
Before Elida could start attending school, she had to undertake extra tuition to catch up on the education she missed while living on the streets. Now aged 14, she has graduated from her literacy class, and is enrolled at a local school. Elida’s uniform, shoes, school bag and writing materials are provided by Vision of Hope. She also stays in the Vision of Hope compound during term times, where she is given food and has access to a bathroom.
As with all of the girls Vision of Hope works with, staff have been working to trace family members with whom Elida can live in safety. She now stays with an aunt, who is based nearby, during the school holidays. Elida dreams of becoming a judge after completing her education.