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The psycho–educational needs of children orphaned by AIDS as perceived by their caregivers
Van Rooyen, Marieke Cornelia
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During the past decade, South Africa has become the country with the highest number of HIV/AIDS infections in the world. In the wake of the widely spread HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, hundreds of thousands of children are left parentless. Since limited research exists on the psycho-educational needs of children orphaned by AIDS in South Africa, the focus of this study was on their psycho-educational development. A literature study was conducted to investigate the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa and its consequences for the psycho-educational development of AIDS orphans. A qualitative investigation was undertaken and interviews were conducted with caregivers of AIDS orphans at two care centres in rural KwaZulu-Natal. The aim of the investigation was to identify the psycho-educational needs of AIDS orphans as perceived by their caregivers. Moreover, the investigation also aimed at identifying factors that impede the psycho-educational development of AIDS orphans, and to determine the extent to which these day care centres meet the psycho-educational needs of these orphans. The following psycho-educational needs of AIDS orphans emerged from the investigation: - the need to socialise and communicate - the need to cope with parental death - the need for acceptance - the need for security and care - the need for love and belonging - the need to deal with negative emotions Physical and material needs were added to the above needs, since these were frequently mentioned during the course of the interviews. Factors that seriously impeded the psycho-educational development of AIDS orphans were abuse and neglect. The investigation also revealed that the care centres were to a large extent able to meet a broad spectrum of these orphans’ psycho-educational needs, especially at the care centre where the AIDS orphans were able to sleep over and received the full-time attention caregivers. Since the extended family system can no longer fully carry the burden of hundreds of thousands of AIDS orphans in South Africa, care centres situated in the affected communities can offer a iv viable alternative to traditional models of care. The study emphasised the need for further research on the needs of AIDS orphans as well as increased support of AIDS orphans on local, provincial and national levels.
- Education