Plumbing the depths

by | Dec 17, 2009


This morning I went to an orphanage in Bissau (see @markweston71 on twitter for more photos). Can there be a less promising start to life than being orphaned in Guiinea-Bissau? Actually, yes. Some of the orphans were disabled, physically and mentally. Others had been raped and were infected with HIV (unfortunately the southern African myth that you can rid yourself of HIV/AIDS by having sex with a child has reached West Africa, and orphans are an easy target).

Some of the children wanted to play and have their photos taken, and to touch your white skin and long hair. Most, though, just wanted a hug, and to rest their little head on your shoulder for a while.


  • Mark Weston

    Mark Weston is a writer, researcher and consultant working on public health, justice, youth employability and other global issues. He lived for two years in an informal settlement on Ukerewe Island in Tanzania and lived in revolutionary Sudan until being evacuated because of coronavirus. He is the author of two books on Africa – The Ringtone and the Drum and African Beauty.

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