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AIDS Orphans Sharing Their Stories. Exhibit Features "the Children Left Behind"
BALTIMORE, Maryland JULY 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Thirteen-year-old Sizakele Keswa lost her mother to AIDS and never knew her father. Her story is told in a traveling exhibit sponsored by Catholic Relief Services.

Keswa is one of the orphans featured in "The Children Left Behind: AIDS Orphans Around the World," an interactive, 1,200-square-foot exhibit to educate people about the millions of orphans and other children left vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.

The exhibit represents children from Uganda, South Africa, India, Cambodia, Guatemala and the United States, giving a look at their lives with stories, photos, poetry and artwork by and about the children.

Kathleen Bambrick Meier, the exhibit coordinator, told ZENIT that what has inspired her most "is that these orphans are not just in Africa, but the world over."

"It is easy to overlook, but it is happening right here, right now, so close to home," she added.

Bambrick Meier explained that the stories of the children give them actual names and faces, making them more than just a statistic for viewers who are often largely unaware of this aspect of the AIDS problem.

Sizakele Keswa, a 13-year-old girl from Durban, South Africa, who lost her mother to the disease and never knew her father, has become something of the poster child for the exhibit, Bambrick Meier continued.

"Sizakele is displayed somberly holding up a photograph of her late mother, capturing the reality of these children," she added.

Catholic Relief Services personnel say they have been pleased with the public response.

"The exhibit," said Bambrick Meier, "was suppose to run from one to two years, but we have received so many inquires, that it has had a life beyond what we initially thought it would be."

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS expects the number of AIDS orphans to jump to at least 25 million by 2010.