The children of Mbeya, Tanzania

Unstable future

If parents die of AIDS the children become orphans. In Tanzania one to every three children will lose its parents because of AIDS. This of course is a traumatic experience and as soon as the orphaned children fully grasp the meaning of this tragic loss, they will experience how fragile the world is. Nothing in their future can be considered as stable or secure anymore.
If the father dies considerable material consequences will arise. School attendance may become impossible, school fees have to be paid for and school uniforms must be bought. There is much less money [or none at all] available for clothes and food. Children have to work harder both at home and in the fields. Boys also have to do additional household chores: fetch water and firewood, cook, wash, etc. The father's family may even "confiscate" the house and the fields and send the mother away. The children are then divided among the family, although they are often considered to be unwelcome mouths to feed,they are regarded as a cheap labour force.

Changes in personal circumstances
If the mother dies,the child's greatest loss will be the person to whom he or she relates to emotionally. There is also a drastic reduction in daily care, which in the best of cases will be taken over by siblings or grandparents.
Other children often tease them: those who have not yet lost a family member show them the new trousers or blouses they got from their parents. Without going into detail, it is obvious that the loss of their parents is a source of extreme stress to these children.


Mbeya Town

Mbeya Regio

Studies on the effects of traumatic losses.
Long-term studies of children in so-called "difficult circumstances" have shown that they cope in different ways with traumatic stress situations. While some experience severe impairment in their overall development, others seem to emerge strengthened by these difficult circumstances. In everyday terms, these children are said to be "invincible".
Resiliency research, which examines the conditions under which social and mental composure can be retained even when stress is severe, and the factors that increase the ability to recover quickly and completely after severe trauma, has reached some interesting conclusions. Apparently, more than one factor is responsible for impairing a child's intellectual and psychological development. The context in which the traumatic experience takes place seems to be more important than the experience itself. If favourable conditions can be created, chances are that a child will be able to successfully overcome the trauma of separation from a loved one.
Summary from: HIV news web\When Parents Die of AIDS The Children of Kagera, Tanzania - Novartis Foundation (NFSD).htm