Children orphaned by AIDS in Uganda: Can they thrive under orphanage care?

Priscillah Rukundo, Marguerite Daniel

Abstract

Care for orphaned children is one of the major challenges facing AIDS-affected communities. Usually orphaned children are cared for by extended families; alternative living arrangements may include orphanages and child-headed households. This study focuses on orphanage care to (1) identify coping strategies used by orphaned children to deal with various challenges and (2) explore ways in which orphanages contribute to orphaned children’s wellbeing. Twelve children living in an externally-funded, family-style orphanage were interviewed. Staff members from the same orphanage and from two other organizations caring for orphaned children (six in total) were interviewed. Challenges faced by the children included mourning the loss of parents, longing to meet relatives and stigmatization of HIV positive children. The children coped by drawing on their faith, making friends and by avoiding and ignoring. The children’s basic needs were well provided for by the orphanage but there was a gap in psychosocial support. Connections with relatives were lacking for several children.

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