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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337

S. Afr. j. occup. ther. vol.40 n.1 Pretoria Mar. 2010




Promoting human rights: Understanding the barriers to self-help groups for women who are carers of children with disabilities



Fasloen AdamsI; Roshan GalvaanII

IMSc (OT) UCT; Lecturer, Dept of Occupational Therapy, University of the Witwatersrand
IIMSc (OT) UCT; Senior Lecturer, Dept of Occupational Therapy, University of Cape Town





Mothers and other caregivers of children with disabilities are usually the main advocates for the rights of their children. For them to effectively advocate for the inclusion of their children with disabilities (CWD) into their communities, they need to be empowered to ensure that their rights are respected. Support or self-help groups are modalities which may facilitate processes promoting their empowerment. This article describes the factors which influence the functioning of a parent support and self-help group in an impoverished community in Cape Town. An action research study was conducted to explore the barriers influencing the achievement of desired advocacy and support goals of this parent support and self help group. Data were gathered through a series of focus groups.
The study yielded three themes, namely: "Tensions with becoming a self-help group", "I versus We" and "The process". The themes highlighted that women experienced missed opportunities, multiple roles, negative habitual behaviour and time poverty as consequences of their socio-political and socio-cultural environment. These impacted on the efficiency with which they could address their self-help goals, more particularly they compromised their contribution to community development. The implications of this for occupational therapy practice are identified.

Key words: Support groups, self-help groups



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Fasloen Adams
Roshan Galvaan

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