The impact of the social networking of elderly women participating in loveLife’s goGogetter programme on orphaned and vulnerable youths in their community

Date: August 26, 2013
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Despite the slight decline in adult HIV prevalence worldwide and increasing access to treatment, the number of children who have lost their parents to HIV and AIDS has been increasing and seems set to increase further in the future. A strong strategy to support Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) is essential. Across Africa, leaving this task up to mainly the extended family and communities is considered the most appropriate response by policy makers, and therefore locally generated social capital has become the vanguard of OVC support in South Africa and many other African countries. There is, however, general agreement that formal support for familial and community efforts has been insufficient. In 2008 the local youth HIV prevention NGO, loveLife launched one of the few programmes aimed at providing such support to families and communities. The goGogetter programme’s main strategy is to assist in changing or ameliorating circumstances that add to the vulnerability of OVC by establishing and drawing on social networks and building social capital through elderly women participating in the “goGogetters” programme. Through the programme the networking and support activities of the goGogetters are directed and structured around addressing specific areas of OVC vulnerability. This study aimed to establish whether the structured social networking of goGogetters translated into any benefit for the OVC that they support. In a qualitative investigation a sample of 21 programme participants across three communities in South Africa were asked to indicate the personal connections that have assisted them to support OVC. They were also asked to provide an update on a sample of 39 OVC that they have been supporting for the past three years to establish a change in baseline condition. The support from their network connections was linked to their efforts to bring about improvements in OVC well-being. Findings revealed that the social networking of participants was mainly focussed on catering for the basic needs of OVC. As a result of actual or perceived limitations on material resources available within these networks, this form of social capital was not of major benefit to participants who generally tended to focus their support for OVC on activities not requiring material resources. It was illustrated that participants have been playing the role of family advisor and intermediary between families and authorities/social services, but that their strongest service has been the provision of emotional support to OVC. It is recommended that funding towards the basic needs of OVC be channelled into communities, and that the role of goGogetters be developed to include guiding caregivers and others to improve the psychological support provided to OVC.

Publisher: University of Johannesburg
Year of Publication: 2012

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