Original Research

Development of alternative interpretations: The story of an orphaned boy affected by HIV and AIDS and father abandonment

Juanita Meyer
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 35, No 2 | a884 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v35i2.884 | © 2014 Juanita Meyer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 June 2013 | Published: 06 August 2014

About the author(s)

Juanita Meyer, Department Practical Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article elaborated specifically on the research journey in arriving at the development of an alternative narrative, which points beyond the local community, with reference to a broader study which aimed at addressing uncertainties about the type and nature of the relationship between HIV and AIDS and adolescent male orphans affected by this disease and all its aspects, such as poverty, exposure to crime and stigmatisation and lack in parental figures, more specifically the lack of the father figure. Subsequently, this study aimed at dissecting the orphan’s life experiences in the midst of HIV and AIDS and how these experiences will influence his sexual and power relations with women and his role as future father and husband, in the absence of a father figure. The researcher wanted to explore ways in which these past and future narratives influence or affect the male orphan’s view of and relationship with God and assess whether it is it just this view of and relationship with God that influence and affect his relationship with his past narrative and writing of his future narratives. This article described and explained the research process as it utilised the epistemological viewpoints of a postfoundational notion of practical theology and the methodological tools of the seven movements of a postfoundational practical theology. With the use of the metaphor of Tree of Life and the David narrative, the researcher journeyed with the co-researchers (i.e. the children who took part in this research) in the construction of a preferred alternative narrative, which, in turn, functions as a guiding metaphor, for aspiring to the future and living their lives in a preferred and satisfying manner. This article concluded with an alternative narrative as developed by one of the co-researchers, as an example of how these theoretical viewpoints can be used in praxis in developing alternative narratives which frees the persons from the constraints of a problem-saturated narrative, with special reference and acknowledgement to Professor Julian Müller, who introduced the researcher to the world of possibilities.


The development of alternative interpretations, which point beyond the local community,adolescent,orphan, HIV and AIDS, poverty, father abandonment, narrative therapy, social constructionism, postfoundationalism, transversality


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