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The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a devastating blow to the social fabric of Perú, with the highest orphans per death (OPD) ratio of any country in Latin America. Therefore, 260,000 orphans now require care because of 216,000 parent, custodial grandparent, and caregiver deaths between 2020 and 2022. The purpose of this research is to examine whether the practice of Transcendental Meditation, an established technique for improving the mental and physical health of children, can reasonably be expected to alleviate the symptoms of trauma associated with this surge in orphanhood.

Adolescent indigenous female orphans and their carers at Hogar de Niñas Virgen de Fatima de Chejoña, a residential care shelter near Puno in the country’s southeast, participated voluntarily in this mixed methods case study. Following a Type-2 case study structure, the research design details the context, case, embedded units of analysis, and methodological approaches used to measure them.

Three research modules were designed to explore: 1) orphan and carer health, personal relations, behavior, sense of safety and security, and view of the future; 2) health and school performance of orphans; and 3) depression, anxiety, and stress of both orphans and carers. The mixed methods approach used to gather and interrogate data derived from these orphans and carers before and after instruction in Transcendental Meditation included: structured interviews to determine the direction before and after change (qualitative module one); a vernacular paper-and-pencil test to measure physical, cognitive, and emotional health and school performance after instruction (quantitative module two); and a standardized test instrument to measure depression, anxiety, and stress in orphans and carers after instruction (quantitative module three).

Findings include self-report changes in orphans from feelings of fear, nervousness, and hopelessness to feelings of greater confidence, assurance, and a sense of achievement (module one); a significant difference between the number of orphans who reported improvements in health and school performance and those who did not receive Transcendental Meditation (module two); and higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress in orphans than other comparative girls (module three). Despite limited carer data, the diverse sources of evidence for orphans, when considered in combination, suggest Transcendental Meditation may have salutarily improved both the present and future lives of girls in Perú.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.