Current State of Orphan Care
The National Aids Council (NAC) of Zimbabwe reported in 2009 that 1.3 million children in Zimbabwe were orphaned by Aids alone. Additionally, approximately 50,000 household in the country are headed by children below the age of 18, whose parents have died of the disease. Due to a lack of internal investment, Zimbabwe has the lowest number of social workers to children in the region. The ratio of social workers to children in Zimbabwe is 1 to 49,587. Comparatively, in Botswana the ratio is 1 social worker to 1,867 children, and in Nambia it is 1 to 4,300. The absence of social workers in Zimbabwe continues to drive children to the streets and creates new orphans daily. These children don’t have access to resources to get the help they so desperately need. According to experts at the University of Harare,
“Orphans suffer psychological trauma, starting with the illness and death of their parents, followed by cycles of poverty, malnutrition, stigma, exploitations, and sexual abuse…Experiencing this without family love and support, and without the education needed to understand and rise above their circumstances, these orphans are at risk of developing antisocial behavior patterns.”
Most importantly, the perilous circumstances these children face endanger their lives. As reported by the NAC’s, “The erosion of livelihoods and negative coping mechanisms resulting from increasing poverty makes orphans particularly vulnerable…Orphaned children are less likely to access healthcare, attend schools, and [have] basic materials.”
Mpofu, Thulani, “Zimbabwe’s 1.3 million Aids orphans.” The National. 25 Jan. 2010. Web.
“1 social worker for 49,587 children.” Reliefweb. 12 Dec. 2012. Web.