The aim of this dissertation is to contribute to the development of a strategy for church involvement in the care of vulnerable children in low income households. The extent and nature of the problems caused by HIV/AIDS is inconceivable. Of particular concern is the children affected by HIV/AIDS. There is little consensus as to whether institutionalised care can be replaced by community-based care. The church needs an informed approach for future intervention. Existing research covers the needs of children to a certain extent, but does not have conclusive answers as to how these needs should be met. There is little, if any research examining the totality of the child’s needs. This research will determine what the vulnerable child’s unmet needs are, and get a first indication of the extent to which they are being met in the low-income household. Missiology is the field within which this study is undertaken. A good understanding of mission and the link between mission and the holistic study of the needs of vulnerable children is discussed as basis for further reflection. In an attempt to determine the totality of the child’s needs, the fundamental human needs theory, developed by Manfred A. Max-Neef is used. According to Max-Neef, all human beings have 10 fundamental needs: subsistence, protection, affection, creation, idleness, understanding, participation, identity, freedom and transcendence. These needs can be satisfied by an infinite variety of satisfiers. The findings of the study include: 1. Caregivers perceive the quality of life of vulnerable children to be high, but fieldworkers’ perceive it to be poor; 2. Denial of the vulnerability of children is associated with the denial of the existence of HIV/AIDS in the community; 3. There is a lack of knowledge of the importance of early childhood, accompanied by a lack of parenting skills for optimal early childhood development; 4. Children are not provided with opportunity and skills to manage grief; 5. The protection of children against abuse and crime is questionable, and 6. The needs of the children in the safe-house do not seem to be satisfied more or less holistically than those who live in families, or vice versa. The church can play a pivotal role in addressing the needs of vulnerable children. Apart from providing care herself, the role of the church is to be a catalyst of holistic care: 1. The first task of the church is to develop a thorough and holistic understanding of the total context, such as the fundamental needs of vulnerable children and the roles of different care-givers; 2. The second task is to promote understanding of the nature of vulnerable children’s needs amongst all role-players, and 3. The third task is to facilitate the best possible use of existing resources to satisfy the prevailing fundamental needs. The most important interventions recommended are: 1. Development of skills and knowledge for early childhood development. 2. Development of knowledge and skills in age-appropriate grief management, and 3. Further study to develop integrated community-based, institutional care.
Dissertation (MA (Theology))--University of Pretoria, 2006.