World AIDS Day 2008: Brendan Bannon blog - Day Four: Invisible children

DAY FOUR: INVISIBLE CHILDREN

Walter is 12 and Charles is 10. They are alone and they are invisible.

"Nobody comes from the community to visit us here. They just look at us from the outside," Walter said, looking out the door of the house he shares with his younger brother.

They never knew their father. Their mother died in 2002 and, this April, thier grandmother died.

"We dig the earth and plant, and we go to school. No one is telling us to go. We go because we need more knowledge. I want to be a doctor- that's why I go," said Walter.

"Doctors help people and I want to help people" he continued.

I asked him if he knew any doctors.

"I heard of doctor Chula but he died three years ago. People were always talking good about him," he said.

I wondered if, during the time his two closest relatives were dying, they received any medical treatment. There is a cost recovery system at the public hospitals so people in Kenya who are sick and poor often go without care, believing it to be out of reach.

The boys told me that when they get sick, they wait for it to finish because they cannot afford to go to the hospital.

The brothers live in a two room mud and stick house on their grandmother's 200 by 200 meter plot. Scattered around the land are signs of industry and initiative. There are the rows of maize, smaller plots for green vegetables and, next to the house, Charles has made a small nursery for tree seedlings.

"This is my experiment," he told me.

Walter is second of 49 in his class at school. Charles the younger brother is fifth out of thirty. In the face of an incredible tragedy these kids have and incredible resolve; and they have each other.

Charles said, "My older brother is always giving me advice. He tells me 'We should love each other and not destroy the things we have.'"

Walter added, " We still have a few problems. Sometimes there is not enough food so we go to sleep hungry; The other problem is clothes. We don’t have clothes to wear to church, or shoes. And sometimes we can't afford the fees for our exams at school.

"After we face all of these problems and if we are able to succeed I hope the community will see that we are people too."