Influence of Parents’ Death on Psychosocial Wellbeing of Adolescents: Selected Orphanages in Nairobi, Kenya

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Influence of Parents’ Death on Psychosocial Wellbeing of Adolescents: Selected Orphanages in Nairobi, Kenya

Sébastien Kalengwe Tshamata1, Dr. Elizabeth Ngozi Okpalaenwe2
1Student at Marist International University College, Masters Programme of Counselling Psychology and Spirituality, Kenya
2Lecturer Marist International University College, Kenya
DOI: https://doi.org/10.51584/IJRIAS.2023.8711
Received: 23 May 2023; Revised: 28 June 2023; Accepted: 06 July 2023; Published: 03 August 2023

Abstract: Adolescence is a transitional period that everyone goes through after infancy. In adolescence, hormonal and physical changes take place which is evident in appearance of breasts in girls and beard in boys. Socially, the adolescents expand their social circle by spending more time outside family bounds, which disorients them. This is a critical stage of their life when parents are required to offer emotional support, guidance and mentorship. The demise of a parent at this delicate period may worsen the adolescents’ psychosocial wellbeing. Therefore, this study investigated the influence of parents’ death on the psychosocial wellbeing of adolescent orphans in selected orphanages in Nairobi, Kenya. The study was guided by these objectives: to explore the psychosocial wellbeing of orphaned adolescents after the demise of their parents and to explicate the effects of the death of parent (s) on the psychosocial wellbeing of the adolescent orphans living in the selected orphanages. The study used a qualitative research approach. The target population was 175 while the sample size was 10 comprising 6 adolescent orphans and 4 caregivers. The respondents were purposively selected while qualitative data was collected using semi-structured interviews and observation. The study found out that parental death disrupts adolescent orphans emotionally and socially. It also creates scarcity of the basic needs in the lives of the orphans forcing them to look for help from orphanages. The findings of this research may help parents to prepare in advance the future of their children. Further, the study established that the affected adolescent orphans need counselling especially grief therapy in order to restore their psychosocial wellbeing.

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Keywords : Caregivers; Adolescent Orphans; Orphanages; Parental Death; Psychological Wellbeing

I. Background to The Study

Among the first humans that a child comes in contact with are their biological parents. Parents are expected to stay with the children up to their maturity. Unfortunately, due to death, not every child has the chance to enjoy parental presence up to adulthood. DeLuca (2019) observes that from 140 million orphans in 2015 globally, the number has reached an estimated 153 million. Issah (2019) noted that the African continent houses 52 million orphans. Mutura (2022) and Mureithi (2022) puts the number of orphans in Kenya at 3.6 million.

The causes of death of parents differ according to circumstances, lifestyles, and standards of living. Waruru et al. (2022) presented the four leading underlying causes of death in Kenya in 2019 as follows, HIV/AIDS, hypertensive disease, other cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Njoroge (2019) and Mafumbate (2019) affirmed that traditionally, orphans were taken care of by extended families. In Kenya, Njoroge observes that, in the 1970s this value of generosity towards orphans started crumbling due to many factors including rapid urbanisation, poverty and population growth. By the 1990s, Njoroge continues, the spread of HIV/AIDS brought about a considerable number of orphans. The increase in number of orphans and the attached stigma to the disease, made it difficult for the extended family system to care for orphans. This brought about an increase in the number of orphanages. In Kenya, the number of registered charitable organisations taking care of orphans is around 800 (Grant, 2018).

The present study focused on orphans living in three selected orphanages in Nairobi the Kenyan capital city. This study’s main objective was to seek to understand the experience of adolescent orphans following the demise of their parental.

Research Objectives

This study was guided by the following objectives; 1) To explore the psychosocial wellbeing of orphaned adolescents after the parent’s death. 2) To explicate the effects of the death of (a) parent (s) on the psychosocial wellbeing of orphaned adolescents of the selected orphanages in Nairobi, Kenya.