Children at the Gate: Meeting the Psychosocial Needs of AIDS Orphans in Northern Namibia
As the numbers of AIDS orphans increase in Namibia, immediate attention must be given to their psychosocial needs. Although programs for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) have been implemented in several regions, too little has focused on psychosocial issues. According to the literature reviewed, psychosocial skills are critical to the development of children.
This study identifies the psychosocial needs of a small group of children in the Oshana region of northern Namibia in order to recommend workable solutions for care and support. The subjects used in this study are AIDS orphans attending an after-school program at the Sam Nujoma Multi-Purpose Centre in Ongwediva. Additional participants included caregivers, the author’s program assistant, field experts and other practitioners who are directly involved in HIV/AIDS and OVC care and support.
Through structured interviews, informal discussions and observation over an extended period of time, the findings show that OVC are adversely affected by the consequences of HIV/AIDS. They endure overloaded households, increased poverty, stigma and discrimination. Experiencing constant illness and death around them, they suffer the effects of trauma and stress. Caregivers and communities are overwhelmed with suffering and unable to cope. They also lack the knowledge, skills and resources critical to providing effective care and support.
It is the author’s belief that through strategic planning, comprehensive, multi-sectoral and sustainable programs can be implemented to provide the critical psychosocial support to OVC, their families and communities.