This thesis started with the reading of international orphan care strategies presented by two of the world’s biggest stakeholders and policy makers namely UNICEF and the World Bank. As I red along the thinking behind their policies and the aim to achieve became something that I could not stop thinking about. The means to help Africa’s orphans was to strengthen family ties to make them take care of additional members and the aim by doing this is to prevent children from living alone. But the numbers of child-headed households does not decline. If it was as easy to have children live with their family members by providing them with some food, it would have been done and actually worked a long time ago. I started to think about what was behind the fact that child-headed households still exist. This became the inspiration to dig deeper into the matter.
UNICEF and the World Bank start with the premises that blood relatives will take care of children with just a little economical help. Blood becomes in this sense a word synonym to solidarity. What this thesis does it that is separates the word blood from solidarity and kinship. I rather start with the child-headed household and see what determines actions of solidarity. What this thesis suggests is that blood is not all that must be taken into account when developing an understanding of the child-headed household and their close kin. I suggest that the house must be acknowledged as a factor that determines the actions around the household. The actions are mainly triggered by the importance of keeping the house. When understanding that the house is important for the sustainability of the household as such, but also becomes intertwined as an important structure within kinship, the animation of the house becomes clear. The house and what it protects, stands for and symbolises becomes a structure that is important to keep for the orphans who lost their parents. The keeping of the house is what in many cases determines actions from relatives. Many of these actions may on the surface seem careless and ignorant, but when one understands the importance of the house, one understand that the actions where motivated by a care for the children’s future.
What I suggest with this thesis is that to view blood as the determinant upon which kinship is constituted is inadequate in international orphan care. To secure their right to land and a house is an important step in securing the children’s future and not only their primary years.