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The educational and psychological experiences of children orphaned by AIDS in Western Kenya

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Title: The educational and psychological experiences of children orphaned by AIDS in Western Kenya

Author: Grace Jepkemboi

Date: 2007

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to describe the perceptions of teachers and caregivers concerning the psychological and educational experiences of children orphaned by AIDS in Western Kenya. On the basis of qualitative inquiry, the design of the study focused on phenomenology inquiry. Audio-taped interviews were used as the primary source to gather data for this study. The questions that guided the study were “What are the psychological characteristics of children orphaned by AIDS in Kenya?” “What are the educational experiences of children orphaned by AIDS?” and “What strategies do the teachers and caregivers at the orphanages use to help the children orphaned by AIDS cope with the loss of the parent(s)?”

There were 20 participants, 12 teachers and 8 caregivers, in seven orphanages who volunteered to participate in the study. Findings of the study revealed that the children orphaned by AIDS went through a continuum of experiences. At one end of the continuum are the experiences that arise as the children see their parents develop signs of HIV/AIDS, become terminally ill, and eventually die. Children were most affected psychologically and educationally in their first year in the orphanages. Some of the emotions they expressed were feeling sad, rejected and unwanted, lonely, strange, in need of acceptance, gloomy, dull, cold, worried, desperate, afraid, hopeless, angry, annoyed, upset, feeling stigmatized, in panic, disturbed, frustrated, confused, tensed, angry, reserved, desperate, violent, stigmatized, emotional, and in grief.

At the other end of the continuum are the emotions, personalities, and attitudes of the orphaned children toward the end of the first year and in the second year, which included being happy, hopeful, trusting, confident, respectful, outgoing, cooperative, warm, complacent, and courageous. The techniques that teachers and caregivers used to help children cope with grief after the loss of the parent(s) are also described. The results of the study could provide information for early childhood educators, psychologists, administrators at orphanages, and policy makers, as they consider the psychological and educational needs of the children orphaned by AIDS.

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