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Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
Master i International Social Welfare and Health Policy
The objective of this thesis is to explore the situations and experiences of single mothers in raising their children in Chibolya, Zambia. The breakdown of family structure in developed, and recently in developing countries, poses challenges on single mothers to take care of their children, in particular in Zambia. Three research questions were used to explore and analyse the material; i) what are the experiences of single mothers in raising their children in Chibolya, ii) which challenges do they meet when raising their children and iii) which coping strategies do single mothers use in raising their children in Chibolya? The study used qualitative approach to recruit 16 single mothers and seven professionals using purposive and snowball sampling. A total of 21 participants were recruited and semi-structured interviews were used to explore the single mothers’ experiences and a focus group discussion for the professionals. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data and the findings pointed to all the single mothers having poor educational backgrounds. They had challenges in raising their children due to their poor families, friends and neighbours surrounding them. Their main challenge was lack of work and financial capacity. They found it difficult to raise children in a risk community without facilities to take care of children in the absence of children’s fathers. They used different coping strategies to cope with their challenges and problems. Informal networks such as the family, relatives, friends, neighbours provided emotional as well as some limited material support to the single mothers and their children. They received at least some material, financial, health, clothing, and education support for their children from Children International Zambia. None received support from the government. The majority were street vendors, some were employed as cleaners in homes and in restaurants while others were involved in rotating saving groups and others were engaged in risk behaviours. On a concluding note, the problems and challenges they faced in raising their children were personal while others were coming from the community due to lack of support from society. The findings are relevant to professionals from civil society organisations and public social service departments.
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