|CHILDREN OF THE SILK ROAD|
The conditions in Georgia's state orphanages are so harsh that many children prefer to take their chances on the street. Just 40 miles from Tbilisi, the children in the state-run Kaspi children's home survive on bread and water - and those who do not survive are buried in cardboard boxes! In winter the building freezes, in summer it is infested with insects. A representative from the US Embassy said "In all the years I have worked in Third World countries, I have never seen anything as appalling as the Kaspi children's home."
In most of the newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union, economic dislocation has ensured children in state institutions have not fared well. These orphanages receive scarce public or private support: children and staff survive primarily on intermittent food, bedding and clothing assistance from international donors.
Such medieval conditions and human misery of little children is not unusual in many of the state institutions - not only in Georgia but in other countries along the Silk Road.
In war-stricken Afghanistan there are over one million orphans, many herded into disintegrating buildings, where disease is rampant, and food minimal. In China, millions of girl children are abandoned to starvation and unnatural death, dying in institutional care.
The next wave of orphans is expected in Asia, where the orphan population is expected to triple within the next 12 months as the AIDS pandemic makes its impact. Within countries on the Great Silk Road trade routes some of the most vulnerable children in the world are struggling to survive.
WomenAid International, working in Silk Road countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus since 1994, has implemented humanitarian, development and reconstruction programmes during the years of great need and has remained in the region to develop programmes assisting vulnerable women and children. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union all the newly independent states experienced enormous economic dislocation which has lead to the disintegration of social infrastructures. People have suffered great hardship, none more so than women and children. Having adopted a Silk Road Strategy, WomenAid International continues to work with supportively in the region.
Children of the Silk Road Programme aims to allievate suffering of children by:
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