These caregivers have to contend with many challenges in the course of duty from hostile relatives, to denial by those they care for.
Aseyo says that there are those who live with HIV and Aids but have never accepted it. They blame it on witchcraft and animosity from relatives. She notes that in many cases they have to seek the Provincial Administration to force these people to go for medical care because many of them resort to traditional medicine men whose only interest is money.
With rampant poverty, when these patients are visited by the caregivers, they expect to be given food and money, which the voluntary caregivers do no always have.
“This makes them switch off and refuse to listen to what you are telling them because they feel you owe them something,” Aseyo notes.
Otembo notes: “It is a delicate matter because punishing such children even when they are wrong is misconstrued as mistreating them because their parents are dead.”
She is happy that she brought them up to be responsible citizens and most of them are married after she saw them through Form Four.
For Auma, the greatest problem is providing for her children when she is ailing. Sometimes she says gets severely sick that she cannot work yet she is the sole breadwinner.
Where elders care for orphaned children
In western Kenya, the elderly are left with as many as seven orphans to care for. With meagre resources and fading energy, these elderly people find it hard to bring up these children properly.
Pauline Makwaka, the executive director of Senior Women Citizens for Change (SWCC), an organisation that educates the elderly women on numerous crosscutting issues, notes that it is common in Kenya to have old guardians.