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To escape his grandmother's abuse, Keabetswe lives mostly on the streets and is able to attend school only sporadically. But he knows that the streets are no place for a little boy. Keabetswe's vulnerable nature comes out when he is at Bona Lesedi, a day care centre for orphans which literally means "See Hope" in the Setswana language. At Bona Lesedi Keabetswe leans on Nono Molefe's shoulder, one of the centre's co-directors, and becomes a little boy looking for some attention and a cuddle. And Nono gives it willingly.

Now that Keabetswe has found a place that gives him some hope for a better life, he is glad to stop pretending that he can hack the street life.

"Since the outbreak of HIV/AIDS, the basic needs of many children like Keabetswe have not been met," says Nono. "They need education, love, food and sometimes shelter. We give them clothes, we help them with school work, and they go home just to sleep."

But there are some 2,000 orphans in Kanye alone, and only 200 who come to the centre – a stark illustration of how many more children still need to be reached.

The rising number of orphaned children in Botswana is a direct result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has hit sub-Saharan Africa harder than anywhere else. Over 12 million children in the region have been left without parents and without a childhood as a result of the epidemic.

In Botswana, the country with the second highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world, 15 per cent of all children have been orphaned and, if the present trend of the spread of HIV infection continues, an unprecedented number of children will be left without parents and traditional caring mechanisms will soon be unable to cope.

These days, for children like Keabetswe, attention centers like Bona Lesedi are the only hope for a better future.