RICHMOND, Va., Dec. 17 Fifteen-year old Musa was only two when he became an orphan after both of his parents lost their battle with AIDS.
After their death, Musa first went to live with his widowed, maternal grandmother and then with his Aunt Hadija. Although too young to fully understand who his parents were then, he is well aware now, thanks to his memory book.
Every year, more than 600,000 children are orphaned by AIDS. And with each passing year, these children begin to forget the loving families to which they once belonged.
Traditions are lost; memories and smiles fade.
But Christian Children's Fund has created a way for children to maintain a connection to their past and to the comfort of parents who have passed. Through several of its programs, including one in Uganda where Musa lives, CCF trains members of villages and communities who are suffering from the AIDS epidemic on the creative, preserving and educational powers of the memory book.
Memory books are a loving sacrifice with which to pass on photos, words of wisdom, hopes, dreams and fond memories from parents to their children. Each are made with simple materials - cardboard, notebook paper, paints and twine.
Families are encouraged to gather together with these basic materials and their keepsakes not only to create family ties and honor their histories, but ultimately give children a vital connection to their heritage.
Musa's memory book was made by his Aunt Hadija and has helped Musa discover his true identity. The woman he once thought was his mother, he found to be his grandmother.
"With the AIDS pandemic, too much information is getting lost," said Hadija, "It dies with those who perish from the virus."
Musa's favorite part of his memory book is the two photographs that he cherishes of his parents - the two people in this world who loved him most of all. Someday, Musa wants to become a doctor and treat patients suffering from HIV/AIDS.
"I developed this ambition by reading my memory book," he said.
While Musa received his memory book only after his parents became terminally ill, CCF encourages parents in Uganda, as well as in CCF Kenya and CCF Zambia, to make memory books together with their children.
See how the making of a memory book allows parents to leave a legacy of love and protection for their children by clicking: http://www.christianchildrensfund.org/uploadedFiles/Public_Site/multimedia/SlideShow/Memory%20Books%20Master.html?LangType=1033
SOURCE Christian Children's Fund