Academic journal article African Studies Review

Children of AIDS: Africa's Orphan Crisis

Academic journal article African Studies Review

Children of AIDS: Africa's Orphan Crisis

Article excerpt

Emma Guest. Children of AIDS: Africa's Orphan Crisis. Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2001. 176 pp. Notes. Index. $29.95. Cloth.

When I first saw Guest's book, I had the same reaction to its topic as the one experienced by people who encountered Guest while she was conducting her research in South Africa: "How depressing!" (ix). Beyond this initial reaction, however, I also had an academic's suspicion of another tearjerker book that would do little to contribute to our understanding of the AIDS crisis in Africa and its associated social maladies. I was wrong in both reactions.

Guest's book is a wonderful synthesis of the sad stories that have come to symbolize the orphan crisis and the practical issues and problems faced by those who are trying to fight the problem. Both aspects of this story are a valuable, integral part of the book. Guest focuses on three countries that have been devastated by the orphan crisis: Uganda, Zambia, and South Africa. But instead of tackling these countries in succession, the book is organized around the themes of "Families," "Projects," "International Involvement," and "Children Alone." These themes represent not only the scope and extent of the orphan crisis, but also the idea that this is a crisis affecting everyone, from the individual to the international level. Most important, Guest sees both the benefits and drawbacks of assistance provided at each of these levels. …

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