Street scene in Soweto, home of the Bochabelo project

In the poverty-stricken community of Soweto, South Africa, a non-profit community group works out of an abandoned shipping container to provide basic services for families afflicted with HIV and AIDS.

One in every three people living in this former black township on the outskirts of Johannesburg is infected and nearly all are coping with its devastating impact.

As the death toll spirals, children are losing their parents at an alarming rate and masses of AIDS orphans scramble for food to eat and money to go to school.

The eldest children become de facto heads of households and elderly grandmothers find themselves caring for hordes of kids who would otherwise have no one.

Women whose husbands are dead or too sick to work struggle to earn enough money to feed the family, but jobs are scarce. Unemployment soars at over 60 per cent in this community established under the Apartheid era.

From its rickety headquarters, the Soweto Home-based Caregiver Association trains caregivers, conducts AIDS/HIV education workshops, runs life skills classes and helps families and orphans in need.

Its programs are funded with support from organizations such as the Canadian Cooperative Association, the South Africa AIDS Coalition and the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund.

The group needs to raise $96,000 over two years to build a centre from which to run these programs and expand its services to meet the growing needs, and Christ Church Cathedral is helping make the centre a reality.

The Cathedral's HIV/AIDS Africa Support Group has been raising funds by selling cookies, or "Bochabelo Biscuits," with coffee after church and collecting donations directly. Plans are underway for future fundraising efforts, from an African music concert to a silent auction.

Children in Soweto, South African, near Johannesburg, the most populous urban black residence in the country with a population of 900,000. (Photo by Tracy Tjaden)

The Bochabelo Project falls under the Partnership for Life program of the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), which is dedicated to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. PWRDF has already contributed $30,000 to other efforts of the Soweto Home-Based Caregiver Association.

For more information, drop by for a Bochabelo Biscuit after the service or contact Shirley Rawlings at or Tracy Tjaden at Also, anyone wanting more information or to view the video of a speech on the AIDS pandemic by Stephen Lewis, to General Synod can contact Jim McCullum at 604-434-4655 or mccullum@