Children’s Assessment of Well-Being. A Study of the Experiences and Subjective Well-Being of Orphans Living in Institutions in Ghana.
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This study is concerned with the experiences of orphans living in institutions in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. It attempts to understand how they assess their sense of well-being subjectively. The study goes further to gain knowledge on the interpretations children give to a good and bad childhood and to explore the kind of coping strategies that children employ in the institution. The theories that guided this study were the Social Studies of Childhood and Children‟s Rights. Social Studies of Childhood acknowledges children as competent social actors who are active in their societies and therefore advocates that children be given the opportunity to talk about issues that concerns them. Children‟s rights also state that children have the right to impart information and thus, acknowledging them as competent. It further discusses „the best interest of the child‟ as the fundamental principle to consider when deciding for a child. Aside these two main theories, theories on play were also discussed emphasising the effect play has on children. Theories that concern the care for orphans were briefly discussed exploring the capacities of the extended family system to be able to absorb the increasing number of orphans in our societies. Some concepts that have been used in the study are orphans, subjective well-being, residential care or institutions, resilience and coping strategies. All these concepts have been explained briefly in line with how it has been used in the study, considering the fact that these concepts do not have one specific meaning. The study is a qualitative one and several methods were used in the collection of data to check for consistency in responses given by children. The major informants for this study are children although few adults were interviewed. In the study, the findings revealed that initially the children were apathetic about coming to the institution. However, after staying in the institution for a while and considering the prospects they had, most of them were willing to stay until they were done with their education. Majority of the children considered a good childhood to mean one that has all needs provided. Some of the children formed bonds with either their sponsors or other children and this served as a form of a coping strategy for them. It is worth noting that names of individuals and the institution used are not the original names because of ethical reasons.