Original Research

The psychosocial well-being of orphans in Southern Africa: the perception of orphans and teachers

M W de Witt, A C Lessing
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 6, No 2 | a262 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v6i2.262 | © 2010 M W de Witt, A C Lessing | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 March 2016 | Published: 30 March 2010

About the author(s)

M W de Witt, Department of Teacher Education, Unisa, Pretoria, South Africa
A C Lessing, Department of Educational Studies, Unisa, Pretoria, South Africa

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The escalation in numbers of orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa has become a human catastrophe. If governments do not deal with this phenomenon as a priority it might spiral beyond control. Very few studies have been done to investigate the psychosocial impact of orphanhood on children and communities in developing countries. Very little is known about the life world of orphans in developing countries and even less is known about factors in these children’s lives which can affect their mental health. The researchers decided to undertake research in three areas in Southern Africa to investigate the psychosocial well-being of orphans and to compare the findings with existing research findings. A survey was done in three rural areas to determine the perceptions of orphans regarding their own personal experiences and emotional feelings which may reflect on psychosocial well-being, as well as the perceptions of teachers working with these orphans. Except for depression, the findings with regard to most of the psychosocial aspects were in accordance with the literature. The most important findings were that bereavement practices and approaches fit for developed communities might be of little value in developing settings. We are, however, more than aware that orphans from developed counties or even urban settings might differ from those of developing or deep rural areas.

Keywords: Orphans; psychosocial well-being; bereavement; poverty; stigmatisation



Orphans; psychosocial well-being; bereavement; poverty; stigmatisation


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