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South Africa AIDS orphans overwhelm social work services

Lora Doman has 450 cases to keep track of: A daunting challenge typical amng those in social work services providing care and protection of South Africa AIDS orphans.

South Africa AIDS orphans so overwhelm social work services that Lora Doman – here taking time for some affection on a visit to one of her charges – has 450 cases to deal with alone.

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Lora Doman sees more human drama, suffering, and courage in a single morning than most South Africans ever see.

Ms. Doman is not a nun, or a saint. She is one of South Africa’s 12,000 social workers, a front-line soldier in a battle to hold her country together, one family at a time, several families a day, ensuring that abused, neglected, or orphaned children have a home.

It’s a monstrous task in a country where an estimated 5.5 million people – roughly 18 percent of the population – are believed to be infected with the HIV virus.The AIDS epidemic not only kills millions of South Africans, it also orphans children. A United Nations and World Health Organization report last year estimated that as of 2007 there were 1.4 million South African AIDS orphans – a tripling of the number estimated in 2001, and the largest concentration in the world. For homes, many of these AIDS orphans must turn to their extended families – many of whom are already living in poverty – and to overwhelmed orphanages and shelters for survival.

Doman, a relentlessly positive woman who works for the Roodepoort Child Welfare Agency, meets this enormous task each day with a mixture of urgency and hope. She regularly works 10 hours a day, attending to family tragedies from the rough streets of Soweto to the middle-class neighborhoods of Roodepoort. She typically carries a caseload of 450 clients.

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