Parenting AIDS-orphaned grandchildren: experiences from Lephalale, South Africa

  • S Mashegoane
  • N.F. Mohale


This study explored experiences of grandparents assuming the role of parenting their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren in the Lephalale local municipality, Limpopo province, South Africa. Qualitative face-face interviews were conducted with ten (10) black African grandmothers aged 55 to 71 years. The participating elderly women were self-identified as carers for their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren. The challenges they faced in caring for their grandchildren were identified as the following: recurrent experiences of loss and grief, lack of social support, fear of stigmatization, financial constraints, mental health and physical strain, difficulty in acquiring state social grants, emotional distress, the caring role being divinely ordained and the rejection of orphans by their biological fathers. The challenges of caring facing the grandmothers are enormous. They require that the grandmothers be assisted not only to care for others, but to care for themselves too. The results of this study imply, among other things, that the non-contributory pension and child support grants disbursed by the South African government to elderly persons and other deserving individuals should be improved and maintained to sustain families and destitute persons.

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eISSN: 1596-9231