214434 Protective Processes and Resilience in Rwandan Children and Families Affected by HIV/AIDS

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 8:45 AM - 9:00 AM

Theresa Betancourt, MA, ScD , FXB Center for Health and Human Rights; Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
BACKGROUND: The healthy development of children is threatened by menaces such as war and HIV/AIDS, and greater knowledge is needed about protective processes that contribute to positive development despite risk (resilience). Rwanda presents an important example of compounded adversity where many families are simultaneously affected by the legacy of the genocide, severe poverty, and HIV/AIDS. The aims of this research were to identify and examine strengths and sources of resilience in individuals and families at risk for psychosocial difficulties due to HIV/AIDS. METHODS: We used maximum variation sampling to complete free-listing exercises (N=21), key informant interviews (N=68) and focus groups (N=9) among adults and children (ages 10-17) in Southern Kayonza District, Rwanda. We identified local Kinyarwanda terms for protective resources, their indicators, and local perceptions of how to foster these strengths in children, families and communities. These data were compared to existing theory on resilience and protective resources in other cultures. CONCLUSIONS: We identified five forms of resources comprising individual, family and collective/community strengths: Kwihangana (perseverance/coping); Kwigirira ikizere (self-esteem/self-confidence); Kwizerana (family connectedness); Uburere bwiza (good parenting) and Kubaba hafi / kubitaho (social support). There is evidence of important protective resources among children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Rwanda that can be leveraged by intervention programs. These findings are being used to develop measures of protective resources and to design preventative interventions that build on local strengths.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. List five locally defined protective processes recognized among Rwandan children and families. 2. Analyze the study's findings with regard to existing theory on resilience in other cultures. 3. Compare potential preventative interventions that will build on local Rwandan protective processes.

Keywords: Child and Adolescent Mental Health, HIV Interventions

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Program Director of the Research Program on Children and Global Adversity at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. I oversee all components of the program's research and am responsible for publishing the program's findings. In addition, I teach a class at the Harvard School of Public Health entitled "Applied Qualitative Methods for International Health Research".
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.