"Aisha Makombo, 15, has been raising her 11-year-old sister, Khadija, since their mother died of AIDS last year. An expressive girl with a soft, round face, Aisha, who is H.I.V. negative, has been struggling to get drug treatment for Khadija, who is now sick with AIDS.
"She took her little sister, so stunted she appears half her actual age, to Parirenyatwa Hospital, the nation’s largest referral hospital, last year, but crucial test results needed to qualify Khadija for life-saving medications were inexplicably misplaced.
"On a later visit, Aisha was told the machine that performed the tests was broken. Now the hospital is virtually closed. Aisha said she was referred to private doctors who demanded payment in South African rand or American dollars, but the girls had no money.
"Aisha’s eyes filled with tears as she explained that she had been able to obtain only cotrimoxazole, an antibiotic used to treat opportunistic infections, for her little sister." (NYT)
Zimbabwe's nightmare has grown even worse in recent weeks, in large part because water stopped running in Harare's huge slums, prompting a major outbreak of cholera. Water stopped running because the national government took over the system's operation from the city council, which opposes the ruling regime. Hyperinflation is now so bad that salaries do not cover teachers' commute costs to work, and many doctors and nurses no longer show up to work.
The NYT has a list of organizations that are on the ground trying to help children like Aisha and Khadija. In the meantime, they could use your prayers, especially as Aisha tries to find ways to earn enough money to care for her sister. The danger that she will end up in the commercial sex trade is high.