Original Research

Perceptions of caring for children with disabilities: Experiences from Moshi, Tanzania

Anna McNally, Hasheem Mannan
African Journal of Disability | Vol 2, No 1 | a21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v2i1.21 | © 2013 Anna McNally, Hasheem Mannan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 March 2012 | Published: 23 January 2013

About the author(s)

Anna McNally, Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Hasheem Mannan, Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


Background: Although there exist laws, policies and standards in Tanzania that serve to protect and improve the lives of children with disabilities, the individual human experiences and feelings of the carers and parents still remain the realities of caring for children with disabilities. There is a lack of qualitative studies examining experiences in a developing context. This research aimed to fill that gap.

Objectives: The objective of this research was to gain an insight into how having a child with a disability impacts upon participants lives and to examine both negative and positive experiences of care through the use of qualitative methods.

Method: This was a qualitative, exploratory study and followed a phenomenological method. Purposive convenience sampling methods were used to recruit 14 carers in Moshi, Tanzania. Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with all 14 participants.

Results: Five main themes emerged from the data which shed light on the carers experiences, namely, objective challenges in terms of financial challenges, employment issues and demands of care; subjective challenges in the form of stigma, isolation and pity; positive experiences such as the child’s progress, respect and happiness; material and financial needs; and coping mechanisms which included beliefs, support and attitudes.

Conclusion: The findings of this research were that objective challenges are common and more significant than subjective challenges. Positive experiences were not as easily identified by the participants as the challenges faced. However, having analysed the data, carers do not experience their roles as entirely negative. They simply need the resources to deal with objective challenges which in a developing context are not easily attainable.


carers;parents of children wih disabilities; disability qualitative studies;stigma; isolation; poverty


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Crossref Citations

1. “It means you are grounded” – caregivers’ perspectives on the rehabilitation of children with neurodisability in Malawi
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doi: 10.3109/09638288.2015.1035458