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The social ecology of Malawi orphans

by Okumu, Christopher

Abstract (Summary)
This is a study of HIV/AIDS orphans in Malawi. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world but with one of the highest HIV seroprevaience. Peace Corps (1998) approsimates that 13% of the Malawi population are infected with HIV/AIDS. Al1 Africa News Agency (AANA) States that as of June 1998 there were over 600.000 orphans in Malawi. This is a doubling in three years of the 300.000 number reported in 1995.This study used a descriptive research design to outline the social environment of Maiawi orphans using Bronfenbremer's (1979) Socio-ecological Perspective and Erikson's (1 997) Life Cycle ftameworks. The study used archiva1 data &om the Malawi project 3tarting frorn Strengths" 1996- 1998. The research methodology for the study was Content Analysis within the critical social science paradigm. The question in this research is " Who are the prominent individuals and institutions in the "social ecology" (Bronfenbrsnner 1979) of orphans in Malawi and what is their impact on the development of these orphan-children? " The unveiling of the identity of individuals and institutions active in the social environment of Maiawi orphans exposed the orphan-care social network and the key problems affecting orphan care in Malawi today. Orphans in patdineal Malawi were found to be more " at risk " than those in the matrilineal cultural setting due to the differences in: the ages of care providers, the access to inheritance, and the prevalence of polygamy in the patnlineal cultural sening. Advocacy work for Malawi orphans grounded on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) is one intervention strategy that can empower orphan-families to take ownership of the fight against the HIV/AIDS carnage. This study provides the leadership that is urgently needed vii
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Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/1999

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