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Centre for the Study of Aids

Tilda Loots

The purpose of this chapter is to report on a funded1 research case-study that formed part of a greater research initiative2. The reported case-study was conducted to explore and describe the process of mobilising assets in a HIV&AIDS-infected and affected rural community. The working assumption was that the mobilisation of assets within a community could support and enhance school-based community support within the context of the HIV&AIDS pandemic. A qualitative research approach as methodological paradigm was followed and participant rural appraisal (PRA) was used as methodological design for the reported study. A primary school in the Nelson Mandela Metropole was purposefully and conveniently selected as an information-rich case for in-depth study. Ten teachers participated in the study. The study was theoretically founded on an asset-based approach, with the focus on school-based community support. A number of data-gathering procedures were implemented: focus groups in combination with workshops, visual data, observation and field notes, as well as a reflective journal. The 10 participating teachers that took part in the study were enabled to identify and mobilise assets and resources within their community and to continue with the facilitation process on their own. The teachers identified 3 priority areas and succeeded in establishing a vegetable garden on the school grounds, a support group and an information centre for HIV&AIDS-infected and affected members of the community. These initiatives resulted in the community as a whole being better equipped and enabled to deal with the daily difficulties associated with HIV&AIDS that were being experienced on the emotional, spiritual, material, social and knowledge levels.

Finding Roses amongst Thorns:

What about Hope, Optimism and Subjective Well-being?

Kesh Mohangi

In this chapter I contemplate on and offer an alternative kaleidoscopic-interpretivist perspective of thinking about the psychological and emotional impact of the devastating effects of HIV&AIDS on children. While much has been said about the psychological effects of HIV&AIDS, I deliberate about positive emotions and feelings of well-being and what this means to children who are living in a context of HIV&AIDS. I wonder also how this context of chronic adversity relates to childrens’ experiences of subjective well-being, hope and optimism and pose questions that will form the guiding framework for future research. I reflect on selected literature and empirical studies that document the psychological effects of HIV&AIDS and well-being in adversity and, while it might seem paradoxical, I contemplate the possibility of children experiencing subjective well-being and positive emotions as a form resilience while living a life of chronic adversity.

Teresa Ogina

Many studies have reported the needs of orphaned children in the school environment in terms of requiring funds for school fees and school uniforms. Although some studies have mentioned the needs of orphaned children for social and psychological support, less attention has been given to understanding how teachers construct orphanhood and how they cope with the needs of orphaned children. This study investigates how teachers identify and respond to the needs of orphaned children. Rich descriptive data on the experiences of the orphans and their teachers was generated through in-depth interviews. The aim of interviewing the orphans was to explore the realities of their lived experiences of orphanhood and their expectations of how other people respond to their needs, and to compare them with the teachers’ experiences of teaching the orphans. This study applied a grounded theory approach in generating and analysing data. The experiences of 12 orphaned children who were interviewed suggest the need for social and emotional support in addition to material support. Two distinct identities of teachers emerged in the two schools where the interviews were done. There were teachers who responded positively to the needs of orphaned children and those who refer the orphans to ‘the teachers who help orphaned children’. The findings suggest that internal motivation had a strong influence on the choices the teachers made in responding to the needs of the orphaned children. In addition, interactive and involved relationships determine how the teachers identify the needs of the orphans and how the teachers respond to the needs identified.

Jyothi Chabilall and Cycil Hartell

This chapter describes how adolescent girls orphaned by AIDS and living in child-headed households encounter various difficulties in the achievement of their developmental tasks. The microscopic perspective of this chapter is an exploration, description and interpretation of the phenomenon of HIV&AIDS within the adolescents’ perspectives of their life-worlds, and a comparison of the findings of the reported study with the literature and theories of adolescence as a developmental phase. The investigation draws attention to the negative impact of HIV&AIDS upon the developmental tasks of adolescent girls in child-headed households, as well as the ensuing poverty experienced by these children and their families in the rural areas of KwaZulu/Natal.

As the microscopic view of this research is unveiled, it becomes apparent that adolescent girls orphaned by AIDS find it a challenge to cope with new responsibilities that inhibit their development and prevent them from fulfilling developmental tasks. They become absorbed in unfamiliar adult responsibilities that entail caring for their ailing parents and siblings, hence creating new educational and social challenges, with accompanying financial, developmental, emotional and psychological problems. The girls are compelled to skip the adolescent phase, complete heavier workloads, abandon school and perform more general household duties without parental supervision and guidance.

This study investigated how adolescent girls in child-headed households cope with stigma, discrimination, economic difficulties, school attendance, fees, distress, trauma, personal grief, loss of identity and shame, as well as the fear of abandonment, rejection and death. Furthermore, the study argues that within a child-headed family, adolescent girls are socially and educationally vulnerable due to their social and familial context, roles and position.

Liaising the Microscope and Kaleidoscope

Reconsidering Perspective in Education and Psychosocial Thinking about HIV&AIDS

Liesel Ebersöhn

In this chapter I submit the underpinning thesis of the book. I argue for two perspectives in HIV&AIDS-propelled inquiry and theorising to come together. I posit that interaction between analytical crises-oriented (microscopic) perspectives and integrative insight-oriented (kaleidoscopic) perspectives may make possible co-ordinated insight into psychosocial and education knowledge regarding HIV&AIDS. I structure this proposition by firstly contemplating unifying tenets of both ‘scopes’. I then juxtapose the perspectives by discussing discordance in these canons. Throughout I contend that a confluence of these perspectives may reap multiple scientifically rigorous insights regarding education, children and their caregivers, and psychosocial issues.

Ancois Swanepoel

The intention of this chapter is to move away from simply adding to the existing body of knowledge on the contentious topic of the HIV&AIDS pandemic. Thus, this chapter aims to encompass relevant information pertaining to psychosocial care by volunteers in HIV&AIDS susceptible communities, adding to the new focus and insights regarding the practices and behaviour brought to the forefront of the pandemic. Specific reference will be given to the use of the memory-boxmaking technique as a means of psychosocial support, as well as its contribution to the field of community care and support. The aim of the study therefore was to explore community volunteers’ use of the memory-box making technique to support coping with HIV&AIDS. Research was carried out by using an interpretive paradigm through qualitative research. Data was primarily collected through interviews with community volunteers who acted as participants in the study. The findings of the study suggest that volunteers were able to acquire, apply and adapt the memory-box making technique in both their personal and professional lives. The findings add to theory, as existing literature has thus far not focused on the importance of psychosocial care and support by community volunteers in HIV&AIDS-susceptible communities. The research conducted for the purpose of this study confirms the pivotal role played by community volunteers in supporting communities coping with the effects of HIV&AIDS, especially with regard to their role in guiding the grieving process of affected families. The research findings regarding the use and application of the memory-box making technique by volunteers especially adds to the field of educational psychology, and specifically to systems theory in terms of volunteers impacting on groups within the community, sharing and applying their knowledge to support those individuals suffering from the emotional effects of HIV&AIDS.

Irma Eloff

The first purpose of this chapter is to interrogate emerging conceptualisations of ‘resilience’ in children. The second purpose is to extend this investigation to explore the ways in which conceptualisations of resilience are negotiated, over time, in a study with children affected by HIV&AIDS. I argue that conceptualisations of resilience need to extend beyond the individual characteristic level in order to include the notion of collective resilience in times of adversity. I will base my arguments on my experiences as South African principal investigator of a longitudinal study that focuses on resilience in mothers and children affected by HIV&AIDS, i.e. the Kgolo Mmogo Project. In this study emerging findings are that while the concept of ‘resilience’ remains a contested term, researchers tend to revert to viewing resilience mostly as an individual characteristic, even though there may be greater awareness of social context. Conceptualisations of ‘resilience’ also impact on epistemological and methodological choices throughout the research process. Implicitly the chapter aligns with numerous authors who construct ‘resilience’ as an antidote to medical or deficit approaches in the field of HIV&AIDS.

Tilda Loots and Maria Mnguni

The purpose of this chapter is to explore and describe the relationship between counselling skills and memory work with primary school teachers. An action research design was followed. The funded study was located in a primary school, situated in an informal settlement in the Nelson Mandela Metropole. Ten female teachers were conveniently and purposefully selected to participate in this inquiry. An intervention programme was developed and facilitated, aimed at the participating teachers acquiring the technique of memory-box making. After the intervention phase, each participating teacher was requested to implement the memory-box technique with a child. During a focus group discussion, it was determined whether or not the participating teachers had demonstrated counselling skills in interacting with the children. The data was thematically analysed. The findings of the study suggested that the participating teachers employed the following counselling skills while facilitating the memory-box making technique with children: basic counselling skills (empathy, respect and warmth, listening skills, and skills of genuineness and sincerity) and counselling skills related to pre-bereavement, bereavement and grief (support, collaboration and skills transference, skills of valuing mementoes, and skills to discover family structures and relationships). It was also found that memory work was experienced as problematic by the participants in terms of the following skills: confidentiality, emotional strain on the teachers and cultural beliefs regarding death.

Liesel Ebersöhn