'It's for the best': child movement in search of health in Njabini, Kenya

Ginger A. Johnson, Cecilia Vindrola-Padros

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Previous studies produced on the movement of individuals with HIV/AIDS for the obtainment of medical services have rarely been conducted in the Global South and have neglected the experiences of child patients. This article presents a new type of travel for medical care, where HIV+ children in Kenya are being placed or choose to be placed in orphanages in order to obtain constant access to antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, proper nutrition, and education. Through participant observation and photo-elicitation interviews with children in orphanages and their immediate family members in the surrounding Njabini community, this study focused on documenting children's agency in influencing movement decisions to orphanages for better health outcomes. Photo-elicitation interviews in particular allowed for greater insight into children's lives, their motivations for moving to an orphanage, and as a tool to facilitate discussion. Qualitative methods utilized with family members similarly privileged their interpretations of how child movement out of the house would help achieve the 'best' possible future for their children, particularly those living with HIV. Study findings shed light on the active role played by children in decisions to move to orphanages, the visualization of these facilities as the best place to secure access to ARV therapy and ensure proper child health, and the interaction that continues to take place between children and their family members once they enter these spaces.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChildrens Geographies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)219-231
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • child movement
  • HIV
  • children's agency
  • Kenya
  • medical travel
  • AIDS
  • CARE


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