“We Are On Our Own”: Challenges facing child headed households (CHH), a case of Seke Rural Area in Zimbabwe
African societies have been known for their strong family support systems that view children as society’s future and as an important fabric if humanity is to be perpetuating itself. The family system in Zimbabwe has undergone some changes owing to devastating effects of HIV and AIDS and the economic meltdown that beset the country from 2000 through to 2015. In a normal Zimbabwean set up, children were supposed to be catered for by adult members of their immediate family first and foremost. The extended family and to some extend the community were expected to be alternate carers. Now there is a new family set up: the child headed households (CHH). This research employed qualitative methods to establish the daily experiences of 10 CHH. The research established that CHH faced immense difficulty in providing for their daily needs including food, education and clothing. They also lack psychosocial support such as guidance, love, belonging and protection. They note that while they were still loosely integrated in the extended family system, they were mostly on their own when it came to fending for the family. One participant noted “...our father’s relatives could have taken us in, but I guess they are also heavily constrained. We take each day as it comes. We are on our own but we have not allowed our situation to extinguish the desire of success in us. We do not blame them. We have to move on our own”.
KEY TERMS: Children, child-headed households (CHH), HIV, AIDS, extended family, economy, Zimbabwe