BY: Malaz Elgemiabby

The Orphanage of Things: A Narrative of Abandonment


In Sudan, 110 babies are abandoned in the streets of Khartoum every month. The majority of abandoned children are born out of wedlock. Young women with illegitimate pregnancies are often ostracized by their families and society, and the lack of emotional, financial and legal support has led many to take desperate measures, including the abandonment of their children. Relinquishing mothers exist like ghosts in Sudanese society. The only evidence of the mother’s experience is her anonymous, abandoned child. In order to understand and examine this phenomenon, I used ethnographic performance art informed by design research practice (Performative Research Design). I performed various acts of abandonment to examine the mechanism and psychology of the act of abandonment. I endeavored through concrete, lived experiences to better empathize with the relinquishing mother and create awareness of the wider psychological and social complexities of child abandonment.

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