Being a mother of a child with HIV-related Neurodevelopmental disorders in the Zimbabwean Context

Nyaradzai Munambah, Pam Gretschel, Amshuda Sonday


Background: There is a growing population of mothers caring for their biological children who are infected with Human Immunodeficiency
Virus (HIV), in Zimbabwe. Many of these children present with HIV-related Neuro Developmental Delays (NDDs). The occupation
of being a mother is a complex and multifaceted role geared towards caring for and nurturing children. The different ways in which
mothers negotiate the unique circumstances linked to the occupation of being a mother to a child with diagnosis of HIV-related NDDs
warrants exploration.
The aim of the study was to describe the mother’s experiences of engaging in daily occupations relating to caring for their child
with HIV-related NDDs.
A descriptive qualitative study using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used to uncover the mothers’
lived experiences of caring for their child with HIV-related NDDs. Data generated from phenomenological interviews conducted with
five mothers were analysed inductively using a simplified version of the StevickColaizzKeen method.
Two major themes, namely ‘Ndozvazviri’ (Resilient Acceptance) and ‘Rekindled hope for the future’ emerged from the
findings. These themes revealed that caring for a child with HIV-related NDDs is a difficult and demanding role. Despite this, mothers
accepted and found meaning in this caring role. Their meaning was expressed through the opportunity to care for their own child and to
observe their progress in occupational development and engagement. These interactions created positive experiences for the mothers
and rekindled their hope for the future of their child.
Discussion and recommendations:
Despite the huge demands associated with being a mother of a child with HIV-related NDDs,
mothers were committed to this role and were reluctant to entrust this role to others. The findings of this study encourage occupational
therapists designing interventions for families, to carefully consider how the mothering role positively shapes the identities of mothers
caring for children with HIV-related NDDs.

Key words: mothering, HIV-related NDDs, caregiver

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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