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    Building a Support System: Help And Assistance Available for the Orphaned Youth

    By Nandini Raman
    10 Dec'23  6 min read
    Building a Support System: Help And Assistance Available for the Orphaned Youth
    Synopsis

    Career Guidance is usually a collective decision of a family. For those kids who do not have the support of parents, what is the way forward? How should they plan their path ahead? Are there any resources, agencies or organisations that help young children figure their way around such decisions? Here’s an article that addresses these concerns and more.

    Building a Support System: Help And Assistance Available for the Orphaned Youth
    Synopsis

    Career Guidance is usually a collective decision of a family. For those kids who do not have the support of parents, what is the way forward? How should they plan their path ahead? Are there any resources, agencies or organisations that help young children figure their way around such decisions? Here’s an article that addresses these concerns and more.

    Growing up without the guidance of parents can be extremely tough, challenging and an incredibly stressful experience, especially if there is no one to help the young teenager navigate the turbulent transition into adulthood. Their impressionable years are full of unique struggles, fear of abandonment, uncertainty about the future (that young children needn’t be worried and anxious about), choosing the right friends, managing finances, picking right hobbies and interests, identifying healthy coping skills to deal with distress and fear along with all the woes of teen years.

    That is not all, there are academic worries as well. Subject choices, streams, colleges, post graduate education, career guidance – all this and much more is something that young children who have no parent or adult to guide them are going to find tough and hard to process on their own. To feel a sense of isolation and loneliness is common, and that can further make the young adolescents vulnerable. They may make decisions that are not steady and stable, thereby making poor life choices for themselves.

    Fortunately there are plenty of government resources, agencies, and organisations dedicated to orphaned students (aged 15-18 years) to help them find their way and build a support system.

    In this article, while we explore the challenges faced by orphaned youth, we will also discuss various resources available to assist them in making important life decisions during this critical phase.

    Challenges Faced by Orphaned Teens

    Limited Social Support: Living without parental figures, it becomes very difficult for these young individuals to have a social support network that helps them build their self-esteem and confidence. Many times, a teacher, a warden, peers, other inmates of an orphanage and some mentors double up as that support system.

    Emotional and Psychological Impact: Growing up without one’s parents even if that is the normal for the child, can lead to profound emotional and psychological trauma and instil a deep fear of abandonment in the child. Many orphaned youth struggle with grief, loss of a sense of not belonging to a family unit, and deep feelings of insecurity.

    Lack of Financial Stability: Financial instability is a common challenge for the orphans. They may lack the essentials that children today are used to in their cosy homes, and other necessary resources and infrastructure (study table, stationary, phones, reference books and guides, tablets for online classes) needed to support themselves as they become independent.

    Lack of Emotional Anchor: Even if a child has access to one loving, caring parent (as seen in many a dysfunctional homes), who can be there for their emotional needs, anchor them and make them feel loved, wanted, and cared for, it can last an eternity for the child, and they grow up with a feeling of strong attachments and security.

    Education and Career Uncertainty: Orphaned youth often face disruptions in their education due to their family situations. Some despite being smart and intelligent are unable to pursue higher education and establish a decent career path.

    Legal and Administrative Hurdles: Navigating the legal aspects of inheritance, guardianship, law and order and other administrative matters can be complex and overwhelming.

    Vulnerable to Abuse: Orphan kids are one of the most hi-risk target group when it comes to physical or sexual abuse amongst children in the age group of 15-20 years of age. They are easily groomed and it becomes very hard for them to be able to stand up for themselves to even understand the dynamics of abuse (that it is wrong to begin with).

    Also check-Is Playschool Mandatory For Your Child’s Development?

    Where Can You Seek Help?

    Fortunately, all is not in vain; various resources, registered agencies, and government and non-government organisations are dedicated to helping orphaned youth bridge these challenges and make informed life decisions:

    Foster Care and Adoption Services: We have many foster care services and adoption agencies that work tirelessly in this field to provide safety, security, and a good home to the orphaned babies. Some foster services are temporary who only support them till they find their adopted homes and families. Adoption agencies help match older youth with loving families if they haven't found permanent homes.

    Government Assistance Programmes: Government programs, such as Foster Care, Family Like Care programs, Kinship Care, Education and Skilling, Special Childcare, donations and drives to help change a child’s life, housing and educational assistance, food assistance, financial aid, helps provide stability and a safety net for the orphaned youth.

    Educational Support Programmes: Many non-profit organisations, CSR arms of corporate companies, philanthropists offer scholarships and mentorship programmes, career guidance and tests, hands-on training and internship opportunities specifically for these youth to encourage them to pursue higher education.

    Mentorship Programmes: Mentorship programmes can provide invaluable guidance and employability skills in addition to educational training and learning to the orphaned youth. Organisations like "Big Brothers Big Sisters" (USA) connect shortlisted candidates with caring adult mentors who offer time, support, and timely advice.

    Counselling and Therapy Services: Mental health support is critical for orphaned youth dealing with trauma and grief. Sometimes, some children are rescued from the flesh trade, some from the red-light districts, some from delinquent remand custody homes and they need long term counselling services and support to recover from and heal their trauma and process their emotions and then develop resilience and healthy coping strategies to live a good life.

    Legal Aid Services: Legal aid organisations, NGOs assist with navigating complex legal, law and order and POCSO matters related to guardianship, inheritance, abuse, and other legal issues.

    Career Mapping and Job Placements: Many organisations are dedicated to help these students map their skills, personality traits, aptitude and interests to find like-minded successful career choices and help them with job openings and placements that give them stable employment and make them financially independent.

    Support Groups: Today orphaned youth can join support groups that provide a sense of belonging and connection with others like them who have experienced similar challenges, thereby giving them a non-judgmental platform to talk about and normalise difficult life situations.

    Most of the corporates, agencies, and NGOs that I have worked with in the capacity of a counsellor and a guidance and career counselling trainer to help, educate, enrich, and empower the orphaned youth have genuinely touched the lives of these children and provided them with timely clarity and resources to take proactive steps to set goals and build dependable networks to choose the right education and career choices. This helps shortlist and take right decisions and choose the best mentors suited for their trade to follow their dreams and become financially independent and stable.

    In a few years, they almost always come back to their ‘homes’ and do their bit to pay the kindness that they have received forward. With the right support and determination, we can help them achieve their dreams and create a bright future for themselves.

    Also check-Why Children Should Be Trained In Disaster Preparedness

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