Aiding Africa

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  In South Africa, AIDS claims the lives of 600 people every day. No funding for treatment and lack of education is impacting generations of Africans. Experts say nearly 28 million children will be orphaned by decade’s end. With overwhelming odds, people like Margaret Tagwira are doing what they can to teach these AIDS orphans how to survive.  
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Lineah Mazambuka was barely 7 when she lost her parents to AIDS. Chido Gowero was 9. Both girls were immediately expected to support their families.

Chido Gowero / Orphan: “To me, it is very difficult because I have to change my mind to be a mother, not to be a child.”

In Zimbabwe, Africa, the AIDS pandemic has left more than 700,000 children without parents.

Margaret Tagwira / Mushroom Project: “By the time one parent dies, another is already ill. From that point, that house is being headed by a child.”

Margaret Tagwira used her expertise as a lab technician to create the Mushroom Project. From her base at the United Methodist-supported Africa University, she clones the mushrooms and teaches orphans like Linea and Chido how to grow their own as sources of food and income.

Chido Gowero: “We started raking in the mushrooms in the Mushroom Project and then getting money.”

Lineah Mazambuka: “It changed everything in my life.”

The girls can make as much as 1,000 Zim dollars a day through selling the mushrooms. That’s about 16 U.S. dollars. The money she earns allows Lineah to return to her village with enough food to keep her family from starvation.

Margaret Tagwira: “I really don’t see much sense in an African scientist trying to find out if the moon is round or square when there is no food on the tables of Africans.”

She’s doing what she can to help children fill those tables, one mushroom at a time.


Margaret is a graduate of Africa University in Zimbabwe, which opened in 1992 with only 40 students. Today, the school has an enrollment of 1,200, with students from 24 African countries. Its mission is to help Africans address the numerous challenges facing that continent.