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Loveness and her brothers: trajectories of life for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Zambia

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A central theme in the contemporary rhetoric of those charged with managing HIV/AIDS interventions is how to handle and alleviate the plight of orphans and other vulnerable children (OVCs). The many glossy documents describing the policy and action plans of funders and organisations involved in AIDS work often highlight these children. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily result in increased support for research about children affected by HIV/AIDS, or even the increased allocation of resources to improve their life-situation. Discourse surrounding OVCs appears, in effect, to be barely more than a politically correct strategy for attracting resources while conveying the impression that concern for OVCs is a humane and central aspect of HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation. In many rural African villages, however, the plight of orphans continues unmitigated and unaffected by the larger structures of purported interventions. These bold charges are supported by the following narrative account of a group of siblings in Zambia for one decade, as derived from a longitudinal micro study. It follows the children from the onset of parental death, through successive transfers to the homes of various relatives, ending with a sad form of closure: return to the ruins of their natal home as a child-headed household trying to make ends meet. The plight of these children epitomises an experience common to many children orphaned by AIDS, who are suffering without mitigation from the surrounding structures that exist to help vulnerable children.
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Keywords: AFRICA; MORAL COMMITMENT; MULTIPLE ORPHANING; QUALITY OF LIFE; RESEARCHER INVOLVEMENT; VULNERABILITY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-12-01

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