Children suffer profoundly as their parents fall sick or die. Their experience is often characterized by:
Dispossessed orphans are often forced out to unfamiliar and hostile places.
Psychosocial distress. Their parents’ illness and death causes extreme psychosocial distress – worsened by the pervasive stigma and shame attached to HIV/AIDS.
The pressures of earning for and caring for parents and siblings can lead children to withdraw from school, even while their parents are living. The pressures to abandon schooling intensify when one or both parents die.
With parents unable to work and savings spent on care, children are forced to take on the frightening adult responsibility of supporting the family.
Orphans are regularly cheated out of their inheritance.
Impoverished and without parents to educate and protect them, orphans and affected children face every kind of abuse and risk, including HIV infection. Many are forced into exploitative and dangerous work – including exchanging sex for money, food, ‘protection’ or shelter.
Orphans and other affected children are more likely to be malnourished or to fall ill – and less likely to get the medical care they need. Poverty is the root cause, but neglect and discrimination by adults in whose care they have been left are also important factors.
Institutionalised care for orphans and vulnerable children is not an appropriate option. We believe that resources are more effectively used in strengthening the abilities of families and communities to care for orphaned and affected children in their midst. SPAU believes that where institutional care is offered, programmes must be developed to integrate the children back into their communities at the earliest opportunity. SPAU is supporting the efforts of a local group of women in Muzinda, Nsangi sub-county to provide care and support for up to 40 orphans and vulnerable children. This care