01/19/2011 07:56 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

CNN Hero Amy Stokes Unites South African Orphans With Video Mentors

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has left millions of children without parents.

To help South African children and teens orphaned by the crisis, New Yorker Amy Stokes founded Infinite Family, a nonprofit organization that connects orphans with video mentors in other countries.

Stokes was recently honored as a CNN Hero for her work helping orphans rebuild their lives.

Stokes told CNN:

"[With] so many children and so few adults to help them grow up, I knew we had to find a way to bring new information, resources and the caring, nurturing effect of other adults into the lives of [these] children."

Mentors communicate weekly with their "net buddies". Since 2006, the organization has connected over 300 South African children with mentors.

In addition to finding support and companionship through the mentor-mentee relationship, participants also learn English and computer skills, which help them secure jobs after they finish school.


Supporters can get involved with Infinite Family by becoming a video mentor. Mentors are required to video chat with their net buddy once a week for 30 minutes.

Those who are unable to make the long-term commitment of becoming a mentor can support the organization by making a donation. The dollar amount you are able to contribute will have a tangible effect on South African students. For example, you can give $25 to provide meals for students OR purchase a camera and headset for a net buddy for $135.