ABOUT AIDS ORPHANS RISING

Running Hope Through America will continue the Dreamchaser Foundation's long relationship with AIDS Orphans Rising, a unique program in multiple countries that provide children who have lost both parents to AIDS.

It's not easy being a parent at any age. But do you think you could handled parenthood at age 13?

In Africa, almost 15 million children are living on their own, thier families now missing both parents. They are known as "AIDS Orphans," or "Child Headed Households" -- families where a child under 18 has to serve as the parent.

Sister Mary Beth Lloyd, who will be part of the crew of RHTA, has been working with AOR since its inception. The program is unique in that it does more than just provide shelter and food to the orphans. The project teaches the oldest child the skills they need to be not only self-sufficient, but to be able to provide for their family while teaching the younger siblings in schools.

"These are not just street kids who are sniffing glue" explains Sr. Marybeth who works directly with the children. "These are 4 or 5 children that had a mother and father and they had a house, they had a life, and all of a sudden it’s gone. And now these 4 or 5 children want to stay together and they want to have a good life."

"Before, the relatives would take them in, but now there are so many orphans that the extended family members are so overtaxed, and the unscrupulous ones take everything away from these little children."

CAN THEY MAKE IT?
Absolutely, with the right help. Sr. Marybeth tells the story of one young boy she worked with.

"He came to us with his little brothers and sisters. He had no way of making a living.

"So we gave him a little house, and some food, and got him going. We gave him 6 eggs, and said 'sell these, come back and we’ll give you some money, and give you some more eggs.'

"So every day he’d sell those 6 eggs and come back. And it would grow. And today he’s got 500 chickens, he’s got his own little house, he’s got his own little market, and he’s doing fine. And he comes every day to give eggs to the sisters for the orphans that we’re now trying to help. It’s beautiful.

"These children don't want to give up. A lot of people say, 'Aren't you sad when you are with these children?' No, you're not sad.

"These children want to make it. There's nothing sad about it. They want to go to school, they want to get an education. This impressed me the most. They want to go to school and they don't mind working, so most of them go to school full time and they work full time and they're 10 years old! It's just incredible! They have a smile on their face. They know that they can sit in a corner and cry, and there are some children who do that. But most of them get up and go, they want to make their life good."