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In Zambia's towns, as many as one in four adults is HIV-positive. The problem is plain to see, and hundreds of millions of dollars in aid have been poured in by foreign governments and charities. Their money is mostly spent on the hugely expensive, high-tech task of providing medical care to the infected.

But despite this influx of aid, HIV prevalence in Zambia has barely decreased. There is also a less obvious set of victims for whom little is done. These are the one million children, out of a total population of only 11 million, who have lost one or both parents.

Cecily's Fund was set up to change this. It is named after Cecily Eastwood, who died in a road accident in 1997, aged 19, while in Zambia working as a volunteer for Aids orphans. Instead of flowers at the funeral, her parents, Basil and Alison Eastwood, asked for donations to her cause.

Visiting Zambia six months later, they saw how many children had benefited from the £6,000 raised, and felt they had no choice but to continue with the work. In 1998, they founded Cecily's Fund. Its aim is simple: to help children made vulnerable by HIV to finish school. It pays for their school fees, uniforms and books, which altogether costs £50 per child per year.

This is cheap, straightforward and has a big impact. Not only are the lives of individual children transformed, but intervention breaks a peculiarly vicious cycle. Children of Aids sufferers often drop out of school to care for younger siblings or sick parents. They are likely to live in poverty, or to be involved in drugs or prostitution, and so to get infected with HIV themselves. And, as Mr Eastwood points out, "Education itself is increasingly seen as the best defence against Aids." Children who finish school are more likely to know how to avoid infection, and have a lifestyle in which they can. The enormous task of caring for the infected, however important, does little to help children who have already lost their parents.

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