“Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms, but once you do, everything changes.”David Platt.
Orphaned children are categorised into ‘single orphan’ a child who has lost one parent, and ‘double orphan’ as a child who has lost both parents.
Children are vulnerable, but orphaned children are most vulnerable
Every human being as a young child would like to enjoy the privilege of being nurtured, loved, and cared for by their mother and father – a ‘luxury’ which orphans are deprived of. Instead, they struggle to fend for themselves and rebuild their young lives without the support of one or both of the parents. This makes them vulnerable emotionally, psychologically, socially and economically as they find themselves lacking the life necessities such as food, healthcare, and education.
In the economically disadvantaged families, orphans who lose both parents have in some cases become heads of household with the elder orphan assuming the role of father and mother to take care of his or her younger siblings. In one report, children aged 7 and 8 were found to be heading the households in Makete district in Tanzania. Most orphans are paternal orphans. Paternal orphans are those orphans who have lost their fathers.
Globally, more men die than women due various factors. For example, during the COVID 19 pandemic, statistics show that men in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 67% to 70% of COVID 19 deaths which translates that more women have become newly widowed and children becoming paternal orphans since the outbreak of the pandemic. Therefore, the majority of the orphans are cared for by their mothers or other members of extended family.
Education is the most problematic area for orphans
Education is one of the most problematic areas for orphans. The tragedy is greatest for double orphans. For example, one of the researches done by UNICEF showed that only 52 per cent of double orphans attend school in Tanzania.
The most pressing needs for orphaned children are school uniforms, books, pens, backpacks, and life necessities such as food and medication.