South Africa is home to the largest number of people living with HIV in the world. Nearly 1,000 people die there every day as a result of AIDS, leaving millions of children orphaned and alone. The widespread devastation leaves children, families and society at large with a loss of identity and without the opportunity to ever learn the truth about their heritage.
The Memory Box project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development, was implemented by BCFS’ international division in partnership with the Sinomlando Centre for Oral History and Memory Work at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
The project, conceived by Sinomlando, trained community members to work with dying parents and their children to preserve memories—both intangibly, in the form of oral history and family stories, and tangibly, in the form of objects, written stories, photographs and letters that can be placed inside a “Memory Box”—before it’s too late. By doing so, the project helped build the children’s resilience and nurture their sense of identity. During the life of the program, BCFS’ international division helped hundreds of families cope with devastating hardships and loss.