It is common knowledge that the world population of orphans is increasing exponentially, particularly on the African continent. HIV/AIDS continues to destroy African communities, annihilating the population of those demographics which are most necessary for the productivity of these communities. It has an especially damaging effect on the 24-40 year-old age bracket which is needed, among other things, for the work of raising children. Children are consequently left alone, without anywhere to go, except perhaps to a distant relative, who may or may not care for or about them.

Serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a village in Tanzania, the author wonders how orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) are being cared for, and what kind of services or support they are receiving in the village and district where she lived as an HIV/AIDS teacher. Who is there to help them if their relatives are unable, lacking resources and/or motivation? And where does the government fit into this quagmire, on a village to country level? What is the government’s role in ameliorating this escalating crisis? And larger organizations, such as Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) - what part are they playing? This study strives to answer the question, “Reaching Orphans and the Most Vulnerable Children in Tanzania: What is Working?” Or if applicable, what is not working?

In order to research this question, the author conducts interviews with 15 families caring for orphans, inquiring of both the caretakers and the youth themselves, about the current household conditions and what services they are receiving, if any. Conversations take place with local leaders on the village, ward and district levels to assess the available orphan support. Lastly, CBO and NGO directors in the nearest town, Makambako, are consulted in order to learn more about orphan services.

In her extension year with the Peace Corps in Arusha, at an Orphan Vocational Training Center, she continues to research the local perspective on the orphan crisis. The author earnestly pursues creative models of orphan care and support, in addition to engaging in dialogue with local heroes. She concludes with critiques of her assigned place of work, and her role as a foreigner working to empower OVC.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Social Welfare