This campaign’s objectives is to remove the ideologies that Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC), Maternal Orphans (MO), Younger Maternal Orphans (YMO), Older Maternal Orphans (OMO) are outsiders and commodified objects and replace the concepts of the Western ‘child rights’ concepts of ‘precious child’ with citizenship and human rights. Children hold the key to break the cycle of poverty and more needs to be focused on including children in society a building on their capacities.
Child poverty leads to adult poverty; therefore more effort is needed to action human rights in relation to child poverty and providing special needs to children in poverty. Children need to be given the opportunity to access resources and services that allow them to live a healthy and productive life that allow them to follow through to adulthood and future generations. Children hold the key to break the cycle of poverty and more needs to be focused on including children in society and building on their capacities. Less focus needs to be on income economic approaches to poverty as the strategies tend to ignore children’s needs.
More focus needs to be placed on discrimination, lack of family, lack of social care and lack of access to basic services.The ‘voices of children’ need to be heard and integrated into child poverty approaches and poverty reduction strategies as well as linking human rights and poverty when creating policies and programs that are more efficient and sustainable. Child poverty is described as children experiencing poverty as an environment that damages their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual development, child poverty is rarely different from poverty.
There needs to be a collaboration with families, governments and NGO’ interventions that address OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s issues and create policies and practice in an effort to understand OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s situations in the past, present and future. This alone will shift the discourse from humanitarian interventions to a localised intervention that doesn’t rely on Western ideologies as human rights must also consider Indigenous languages, cultures in order to build strengthen relationships between communities and governments. This would define OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s as citizens and not outsiders and commodified objects.
Adults in communities need to be educated on human rights and the OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s situations in order to empower OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s successfully, as adults can limit ideas on childhood including their agency and actions which deny them citizenship.If citizenships are used in OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s policies and campaigns it removes the Western ‘child rights’ concepts of ‘precious child’ and therefore citizenship leads to the practice of adulthood. OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s need a voice and platform to help with global and local cultural presumptions as OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s are seen but not always heard, OVC’s are seen as irrational and incompetent, OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s need to participate in decision making processes which affect them. The concerns of adults defining and predetermine OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s fates needs to come as a consequence as they reinforce social and political mechanisms that ‘reduce OVC’s powers and fails to take their agency into account disregarding their rights'.
When efforts are made to OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s as citizens social and economic rights will contribute to alleviate poverty; OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s will have the capacity to act, legally and socially; have access to resources that are essential to their survival.
There needs to be a shift away from the promotion of victimhood and more towards empowerment particularly in legal protection policies for children. Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC), Maternal Orphans (MO), Younger Maternal Orphans (YMO), Older Maternal Orphans (OMO) have been stripped of their capacities to claim rights as aid agencies focus on protecting aspects of child rights and not necessarily empower them through rights. The conception of ‘child rights’ stemmed from the West (individual revolution) that children are innocent, precious and vulnerable and in need of protection and did not consider children as people but as subjects who were separated from their parents and placed into institutions – schools where they are surveillance and gives the opportunity for all adults to be duty bearers in the interest of children. However this does not account for all children in particular orphan and vulnerable children because they have no family to separate from and are not always empowered and given individual rights. It is common that OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s are removed from their communities and placed into care that is under supervision, this is the case with international rights regulations and humanitarian interventions and therefore presented with sovereign individuals and not community individuals. The extended family care systems do not always accommodate to OVC’s, MO’s, YMO’s, and OMO’s needs as they may not be equipped to care for children properly.
- Children live in a separate house away from the father with often no lights, no soap and little food, MO’s are excluded from ordinary family life.
- The step mother neglects the deceased wife’s children and only favors her new children; grandparents are not well educated and unable to earn money to support their grandchildren.
- When MO’s are in the care of their biological fathers they have been reported to experience severe hardship, care deprivation and the step mother is supposed to provide care for the MO’s.
- MO’s are left to look after themselves such as doing the cooking on their own, while the father has meals prepared by his new wife.
- MO’s ask their biological fathers for help generally asking for money for food, lighting and soap but their fathers complain of a lack of money themselves.
- Some MO’s walk around naked because their father will not buy them clothes the step mother buys her own children clothes but will not buy MO’s clothes.
- MO’s are treated differently and not equal to other children especially from the step mother and they are often beaten if the other children cry and if Mo’s cry nobody cares.
- Often step mothers and her children eat inside the house and MO’s eat outside the house in a small designated area and they are not allowed to complain.
- When children are beaten by their step mothers they are verbally abused also and often words like ‘Am I the one who killed your mother?” are said to them.
- Younger Maternal Orphans (YMO) in most cases suffer from starvation, hunger, social and emotional withdrawal from the rest of the family, it develops from neglect, and YMO’s are often are dependent on care from women with no emotional ties.
- Older Maternal Orphans (OMO) appear to be in a slightly better position than YMO’s and MO’s as they can look for their own food and are able to access food from a fruit tree if they are hungry and often OMO’s will perform domestic and farm labor in exchange for food.
- Workloads of OMO’s can be overloaded and therefore reducing their time spent on schoolwork and often they are treated like servants and recruited outside for work purposes.
- Favoritism over males reduces female MO’s, YMO’s and OMO’s from going to school, instead girls aged 5-12 are kept at home to become domestic servants and to also look after other children – ‘child minders’.
- MO girls aged 15 years marry early and drop out of school early (if given the opportunity) in hopes of getting a better life and starting their own families, community leaders and carer.
- There is some evidence to suggest that MO’s early marriage saves them from promiscuous sexual behavior however, early marriages most always end in divorce.
1. Cheney Kristen E., 2013, Killing them softly? Using children’s rights to empower Africa’s orphans and vulnerable children, International Social Work, January 2013; vol. 56, 1: pp. 92-102.
2. Lombe Margaret and Ochumbo Alex, 2008, Sub-Saharan Africa’s orphan crisis: Challenges and opportunities , International Social Work, September 2008; vol. 51, 5: pp. 682-698.
3. Minujin Alberto, Delamonica Enrique, Davidziuk Alejandra, and Gonzalez Edward D, 2006, The definition of child poverty: a discussion of concepts and measurements, Environment and Urbanization, October 2006; vol. 18, 2: pp. 481-500.
4. Oleke Christopher, Blystad Astrid, Moland Karen Marie, Rekdal Ole BjØrn, and Heggenhougen Kristian, 2006, The Varying Vulnerability of African Orphans: The case of the Langi, northern Uganda, Childhood, May 2006; vol. 13, 2: pp. 267-284.
5. Tomlinson Mark, Rohleder Poul, Swartz Leslie, Drimie Scott, and Kagee Ashraf, 2010, Broadening Psychology’s Contribution to Addressing Issues of HIV/AIDS, Poverty and Nutrition: Structural Issues as Constraints and Opportunities Journal of Health Psychology, October 2010; vol. 15, 7: pp. 972-981., first published on July 14, 2010