Orphans And Vulnerable Children: The Concept Of Orphans And Vulnerable Children In Africa

Good Essays
Orphans and vulnerable children: The concept of “vulnerable” children in Africa

Key words: children’s rights, Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, OVC, vernacularization, language, human rights and culture

Language and the words we use matter in human rights. Words are of greater importance when we use them to describe both simple and complex concepts in our surroundings. Furthermore, language and culture are powerful forces in the understanding, translation, transmission and protection of human rights, especially the rights of children. “Orphans and Vulnerable Children” or commonly known as OVC is a term that has been used to describe the growing population of children who have lost either one or both parents to AIDS or children
…show more content…
The AIDS epidemic ravaged communities and behind the trail of tears are millions of children who lost parents, siblings, grandparents and other family members who were caretakers. Since the onset of the AIDS pandemic 30 years ago, the population of children impacted by AIDS – through losing one or both parents – will continue to increase. Sub-Saharan Africa bears the brunt of this epidemic. These are the orphans and vulnerable children – a main target of HIV/AIDS programming for children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS.
This essay is inspired by the recently published book, Children and AIDS: Sub-Saharan Africa in which the editors, Margaret Lombe and Alex Ochumbo challenge Africans and all those working to ensure African children’s rights are realized:
“We hope to prompt a reflection and dialogue on the plight of the African child who has been classified as vulnerable. For the authors, this question is a serious moral issue pointing to broad societal malaise. How did the phenomenon of child vulnerability take hold in sub-Saharan Africa? What happened to the familial and extra-familial systems of care that define the spirit of “Ubuntu”? how does this experience impact Africa’s
…show more content…
It is not clear how long the term “orphans and vulnerable children has been in use. The usage of this term is heavily associated with immense effort by the United States government to combat HIV/AIDS introduced through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) IN 2003. Among its successes, PEPFAR has been instrumental in supporting HIV treatment, prevention, care and support for orphans and vulnerable children. According to PEPFAR’s first annual report, Orphans are defined as children under the age of 18 years who have lost either a mother or father, and vulnerable children are those affected by HIV through the illness of a parent or principal caretaker. The OVC Toolkit by the World Bank is a comprehensive tool which defines core concepts such as “child”, “orphan”, “vulnerability” and also the downward spiral of child vulnerability. These frameworks and definitions are important, they trace the sources and impacts of of various vulnerabilities experienced by children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS – this helps in the operationalization of the challenge and population of children in
Get Access