How CWB Got Started
Dr. Richard Bail, served as a consultant to the government of Zambia for UNAIDS from 1999-2000 and evaluated over 40 NGOs working with AIDS patients and orphans and vulnerable children. After seeing the vast need for educational opportunities for AIDS orphans, he founded Communities Without Borders in 2000.
“ I realized that the education of these children was the hope for the future...”
–Richard N. Bail, MD, MPH
In December 1999 Dr. Richard Bail first visited the pre-school at the Society for Women Against AIDS in Zambia (SWAAZ) Family Support Home in Mandevu Compound in Lusaka, Zambia. There were about 30 children crowded onto 3 narrow benches. The schoolroom was about 10 by 12 feet. The only light came from one tiny window. The only teaching tool was a crumbling blackboard, but there was not even any chalk. The teacher was a volunteer without any training beyond secondary school. The children were learning by rote repetition. The teacher spoke, and the children simply repeated in unison what they had heard. Realizing that this would be the only education many of these orphans and vulnerable children would ever receive, Dr. Bail was shocked.
In the year 1999 Zambia lost over 1400 teachers to AIDS. That was far more teachers than Zambia could train in one year. This resulted in fewer children being admitted into government “basic” schools, and, of course, fewer children were able to acquire basic life skills. When he interviewed the children Dr. Bail learned that most of them lived in a household headed by an elderly grandmother who was struggling to care for perhaps 3 to 6 children, whom she had inherited when their parents had succumbed to AIDS. He found that many of the children hoped to become teachers or nurses, but what a gap between their dreams and the accessible reality! How would Zambia ever replace the generation of its most productive citizens lost to AIDS?
It was then that Dr. Bail realized that the education of these children was the hope for the future. He decided that upon returning to the United States, he would link up his co-workers in the U.S. with this community of Zambian women who were struggling to educate these children. Dr. Bail’s dream was that we as an American community might be able to help. So, Communities Without Borders was born!