HIV/AIDS and being orphaned impact greatly on children's lives. This article explores the life experiences of orphaned children in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. In this qualitative case study, draw-write techniques and face-to-face interviews were used to generate data related to the experiences of the children. Results suggest that although the interviewed children yearn for their parents and experience unmet emotional and material needs, they use promotive factors, such as personal agency and environmental relationships, as resilience in fulfilling their needs. Furthermore, the results suggest relationships based on values, such as caring, respect and mutual understanding, as protective factors that may contribute to the fulfilment of social needs as well as enabling their emotional well-being.