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Rebuilding of ghost town offers hope in Swaziland, a nation of orphans

Stephane De Sakutin / AFP - Getty Images

A nurse plays with a child in an orphanage in Bulembu, Swaziland, on March 1, 2012. [Pictures made available March 23]

Agence France-Presse reports — Lost in the mountains of Swaziland, Bulembu became a ghost town when the local mine closed, cutting off its lifeblood. Now the town is coming back, centered on an orphanage taking in children whose parents have often died of AIDS.

Stephane De Sakutin / AFP - Getty Images

The old miners' houses in Bulembu have been fixed up to house orphans, their caregivers, and other employees.

Swaziland has the world's highest rate of HIV infection, with at least one in four adults carrying the virus. A crushing financial crisis has left the tiny southern African monarchy struggling to pay for medicines and for orphans' education.

About 120,000 children have been orphaned in Swaziland, comprising more than 10 percent of the total population. Those startling statistics inspired Canadian entrepreneur Volker Wagner to buy the entire town of Bulembu in 2006, five years after it was abandoned.

He has created a private community, a sort of "Christian kolkhoz", which is developing around the orphanage that now houses 303 children, aged from two weeks to 21 years. Continue reading.

Stephane De Sakutin / AFP - Getty Images

Workers renovate the old miners' houses in Bulembu.

Stephane De Sakutin / AFP - Getty Images

Pupils drawing during a school lesson.

Stephane De Sakutin / AFP - Getty Images