Challenges and Coping Strategies of Orphaned Children in Tanzania

Angela Mathias, Marguerite Daniel


Most orphaned children in poor, rural communities sometimes either have no adult who able to care for them or the adult caregiver is not able to provide adequate care.  The aim of this article is to explore the challenges and coping strategies with two possible trajectories for such orphans:  either remaining in the rural areas in child-headed households, or migrating to urban areas.  Antonovsky’s Solutogenic Model is used as the theoretical framework.  The model examines how people use available resources to cope with stressors and improve their wellbeing.  Data were collection from two groups of participants: first, three children heading households in Makete who were involved in three participatory activities and one in-depth interview; and secondly, nine girls who had migrated from rural areas to Dar es Salaam who gave their extended life history narrations.  Loss of parents, lack of cash and balancing school attendance with food production and harvesting, were chronic stressors for income generating, and the ability to negotiate with teachers, for example, to arrange time off school for food production activities.  For girls who had migrated to urban areas chronic stressors included exploitation and trafficking, long working hours with little or no pay, isolation, sexual harassment and rape.  Limited resources included faith-based networks and neighbours, but escape from the exploitative situation frequently involved external help.  All the children demonstrated at least one dimension of the Sense of Coherence (SOC), namely meaningfulness.  The dimensions of comprehensibility and manageability were lacking in all the children who migrated.

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