Single motherhood and the challenges of raising special needs children in Wakiso District
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The objective of this study was to explore the situations and experiences of single mothers in raising their special needs children in Wakiso District. The breakdown of family structure in developed, and recently in developing countries, poses challenges on single mothers to take care of their special needs children, in particular Wakiso District, Uganda. Three research questions were used to explore and analyse the material; i) what are the experiences of single mothers in raising their special needs children in Wakiso District, ii) which challenges do they meet when raising their special needs children and iii) which coping strategies do single mothers use in raising their special needs children in Wakiso District? The study used qualitative approach with some aspects of quantitative approach to recruit 50 single mothers raising special needs children using purposive sampling. Semi-structured interviews were used to explore the single mothers’ experiences. 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 special needs 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 special needs 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 support for their children from some non government organisations and none was received 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 challenges they faced in raising their children were personal while others were coming from the community due to lack of support from society.