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Children caring for their “caregivers”: exploring the caring arrangements in households affected by AIDS in Western Kenya

By Morten Skovdal


Reflecting dominant understandings of childhood, many researchers describe orphans as an emotional and financial cost to the households in which they live. This has created a representation of orphans as a burden, not only to their fostering household, but also to society. This article seeks to challenge this representation by exploring children's contributions to their fostering households. Drawing on research from Bondo District in Kenya, this article brings together the views of 36 guardians and 69 orphaned children between the ages of 11 and 17, who articulated their circumstances through photography and drawing. Nearly 300 photos and drawings were selected by the children and subsequently described in writing. An additional 44 in-depth interviews and three focus group discussions were conducted to explore findings further. The data suggest that many fostering households benefit tremendously from absorbing orphaned children. All orphans were found to contribute to their fostering household's income and provide valuable care or support to ageing, ailing or young members of their households. The article concludes that caution should be exercised in using the term “caregiver” to describe foster parents due to the reciprocity, and indeed at times a reversal, of caring responsibilities

Topics: HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform, RA Public aspects of medicine
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1080/09540120903016537
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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