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African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development
Rural Outreach Program
ISSN: 1684-5358 EISSN: 1684-5374
Vol. 3, Num. 2, 2003

African Journal of Food Agriculture Nutrition and Development, Vol. 3, No. 2, November, 2003


Serah J. Malaba

BSc Family and Consumer Studies, Intern - Rural Outreach Program, P.O. Box 29086-00625 Nairobi, Kenya. Email:

Code Number: nd03021

The affected person without timely and visible help determines that misuse and under use of numbers plays a major role in their not accessing help. This is the voice of an HIV/AIDS orphan.

Today, HIV/AIDS orphans serve as statistics in many contexts. Apart from being quoted on elaborate platforms, nothing tangible trickles down to many of them. Is it that viable interventions have not been developed? Or is it a case of being far removed from help?

HIV/AIDS robbed me of my parents, denying me the comfort of being parented. Being the eldest child, I had to definitely take their place. I have to endure on their behalf, the teary eyes of my young brothers and sisters who are uncertain about the future. The alienating stares of villagers, neighbors, friends and relatives make my new role scary. My own memories terrify me. The constant flash backs of my ailing parents lying helpless and yet in so much pain, repeatedly haunts me. Those deaths were painfully met but now the emotional drain that I experience seems to outdo that.

Friends and foes alike, turned up in large numbers to convey their condolences after the news of their deaths spread. They wanted to give them befitting burials. I cannot help wondering where they were when my parents were ailing, when they lacked money to purchase anti-retrovirals, when they were bedridden, when in despair from their deteriorating conditions I rushed them to hospital? Whoever talked about strong, reliable, extended family ties?!

Collective efforts were only realized during the burials. As the caskets were lowered into the graves, the crowds steadily reduced. Soon the place was empty, deserted. The implications of what had happened then slowly began to be realized. Eating a decent meal became a miracle, domestic workers had to be let to go, for the school goers, their case would be sorted out by God Himself. Claims of unpaid loans and threats to auction the only place we called “home” began to suffice. The question of estate administrator too, had to be resolved.

In that situation I began to entertain thoughts of self-pity. “ Why me?” I pondered. “And why not me?” came the reply. This is not a circumstance you would wish to befall another. The consequences that come with it are mind-boggling and will last a lifetime.

I strongly believe that society has not come face-to-face with the complete implications of this challenge and that what we purport to comprehend may well be a tip of the iceberg. If concerted efforts are not made to mete the challenge of HIV/AIDS orphans, one can only guess the extent of the overwhelming situation it may beget.

The call, therefore, is for HIV/AIDS programme designers to systematically avail interventions to the growing number of HIV/AIDS orphans. These should encompass holistic approaches that meet all the needs of the orphans. Care should be taken to inco-orporate the orphans’ coping mechanisms in order to successfully sustain interventions and to effectively mitigate against threats and challenges that these orphans face. Finally, aggressive multisectoral research in this area of HIV/AIDS orphans cannot be over emphasized.

Copyright 2003 - Rural Outreach Program

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