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Q&A: To Be a Child and HIV-Positive in Ethiopia

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 13 2012 (IPS) - U.N. correspondent Stephanie Parker sits down with filmmaker Lieven Corthouts as he opens up about the children in “Little Heaven” orphanage, located in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia has one of the largest populations of orphans in the world, with 13 percent of all children having lost one or both parents. That makes 4.6 million orphans,” the film notes.

Lydia Berhanu is the main character in the film and on her 13th birthday she is told that she has HIV by a caretaker and is moved to the “big kid” orphanage: Little Heaven.

As she grapples with the news, the viewers get a chance to see the vulnerability of a child but also the normal life she leads with the other children in the orphanage.

The viewers also get a glimpse into Lydia’s support system and her health problems as Corthouts navigates through her struggles and hopes to go on to a better school the following year.

“There needs to be more support and structure to help the African people. HIV infected people need to be better informed and to receive more material assistance, with daily access to medications,” the filmmakers note.

The film premiered on June 25th at the Human Rights Film Festival in New York City.

IPS correspondent Shari Nijman filmed the interview.

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