Intergenerational caregiving of orphans and vulnerable children: a case of Nyumbani village, Kitui County Kenya
Kagendo, Maina Janerose
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The society is increasingly marked by the number of children who are left without parents due to economic disenfranchisement, residential displacement, drug and alcohol addiction, homicide, high rates of incarceration and diseases such as Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The AIDS epidemic has yielded a remarkable generational shift pushing the responsibility for child rearing. The present situation is that grandparents are now taking on parenting roles for which they are not well prepared emotionally, socially, legally and economically. In the face of this observation, a Catholic priest, Father D’Agostino envisioned building self-sustaining villages that could house two groups adversely affected by HIV/AIDS pandemic – orphans and the elderly. This is what he called Nyumbani (home) village in Kitui County. The aim was to give care to the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) affected by HIV/AIDS, who were left in the hands of the grandparents. The Village which is built on a 1,000 acre of land houses 100 grandparents (female and male) and about 1,000 children. This study sought to assess and document the Nyumbani grandparents parenting approach. The study was important in understanding the roles that the grandparents performed, and the challenges they faced in the course of caregiving. The study used a descriptive cross-sectional research design and was guided by social exchange theory and activity theory. A sample size of 25 grandparents who were the caregivers to the children was selected. The sample size was achieved through first getting information of all the one hundred households and analyzing it critically. Using systematic sampling 25 grandparents were selected and for the households headed by grandfathers purposive sampling technique was used. In-depth interviews were conducted with the grandparents. In addition, three focus group discussions were held, two discussions with the children in Nyumbani village and one discussion with community Self Help Group. Key informant interviews were held with the administrators and other Kitui county stakeholders who interacted with Nyumbani village. The findings were thematically analyzed and then presented under various themes as well as using tables. The study findings revealed that having grandparents to take care of the orphans and vulnerable children has its strengths and weaknesses. Great strengths include both the children and the grandparents benefit. For the grandparents, they benefit in that their grandchildren get education, shelter, warm nutritious meals, medical services, spiritual, moral, psychosocial and parental care. The direct benefit of the grandparents: engaging in income generating activities, exposure on dry land farming techniques. For the children, they benefit in that: they still live as a family despite being in a different set-up; they get education, food, shelter and clothing. The study revealed challenges grandparents face like; intergenerational gap, old age and its health-related problems, Based on the study findings it was concluded that grandparents are playing major caregiving roles amidst a multitude of challenges that include limited knowledge, skills, resources and social support. The approach can be more helpful if; the age of grandparents was considered and if the beneficiaries embraced the modern farming techniques. Recommendation for further study on interventions for stress and coping strategies of grandparent caregivers and also to establish the impact of expanding this approach in other parts of the country to take care of both the elderly and OVCs.