15year old Kingsley the sole provider of the family It is hard to imagine a teenage child assuming responsibility for a household that may include siblings, or an ailing parent or grandparent. A child-headed family is one in which both parents have died and the children have not found alternative guardians within their extended family or community. This is what we were faced with at Ikwo L.G.A Ebonyi State in the south eastern region of Nigeria. September 18, 2015, as we approached the Nwanyigor Ali household in Ishiake Igude, Iwo L.G.A Ebonyi State, we meet Kingsley in front of his home which seemed very lonely and quiet; he stood staring at us alongside his two siblings Abigail and Isaac. Casually, one of the team member asked “where are your parents, where is your father?” Kingsley replied saying “there! My Father is there, where you are standing” pointing towards the direction we stood.
One could sense the trauma in his voice. In
shock we quickly stepped aside having realised we were standing over his father’s grave. Kingsley is 15 years old. He is the oldest of a family of 4, including two boys and two girls. Kinsley was in primary school when his mother died in July 2015. Just a year before he had lost his father, he had no choice but to start caring for her brother and sister. “It was very difficult for us when our mother died. I have to take care of my siblings. I have to buy their daily food, school levies as well as medicines when one of them was ill. I am the head of the family. It is really difficult because I don’t have a fixed monthly income as I am still in school myself. I started selling sweeping brooms I made from fibres of palm fronds from palm trees in my compound so that we could survive. Domestic works such as farming for food behind our house, fetching water, cooking and cleaning were shared among my brother and sister. “Finding money for our daily needs led me sometimes to beg because what I was gaining from my commerce was very insignificant. The proceeds from my sale are not sufficient to cater to the needs of the family. One of my small sisters Chinwe is said to have gone to the city, I cannot confirm her whereabouts”. Since identifying them, Kingsley and his siblings are now enrolled by the LOPIN3-Project; Local OVC Partners in Nigeria Region 3 – funded by USAID with the aim of mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS on Orphans and Vulnerable Children in area 3- Cross River and Ebonyi States (LOPIN-3). They have also received the following services; Psychosocial Support (Counselling Support), Nutrition Education and support, HIV testing and counselling (HTC) and also Legal Protection (Birth Registration). The LOPIN-3 project faces extreme challenges as we come face to face with the reality of life for thousands upon thousands of children living in poverty dwellings and infected or affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic. Children trying to cope, trying to raise their siblings and trying to keep whatever remains of the family, together. This is only one orphan’s story….
Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the American people delivered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of USAID or the U.S. Government.