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When Home is Not Home: Challenges Faced by Children from Orphanage after being Reintegrated Back into Society

Sheron Gomera
Julia Mutambara


This qualitative study sought to explore the experiences of children at an orphanage when they reach adulthood and they are expected to move out of the orphanage which would be the only home they know. A phenomenological research design was used to describe the experiences of graduate orphans; the sample was made up of 13 participants (1 administrator, 5 caregivers and 7 graduate orphans). Data was collected through in-depth interviews. Data were coded, categorized and analysed through identification of themes (any specific analysis method that was used). The findings showed that orphanages offered opportunities for graduate orphans to survive effectively and independently after being reintegrated back into society, however they were facing challenges with emotional and psychological adjustment to the new environment which was influenced by the way they were socialised in the orphanage. It emerged during the study that they had challenges with locating relatives, failure to bond, bitterness, isolation, self-identity, forgiveness, dependency syndrome, securing employment, cynicism and lack of support system. This study recommends that policy makers should introduce policies that promote fostering and adoption in Zimbabwe and create awareness on the benefits of removing a child from the orphanage and raising them in home set up.

Keywords: Graduate orphan, orphanage, reintegration, children

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eISSN: 1117-1421