Original Research

Social participation of individuals with spinal injury using wheelchairs in rural Tanzania after peer training and entrepreneurial skills training

Annabelle de Serres- Lafontaine, Delphine Labbé, Charles S. Batcho, Lucy Norris, Krista L. Best
African Journal of Disability | Vol 12 | a975 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v12i0.975 | © 2023 Annabelle de Serres-Lafontaine, Delphine Labbé, Charles S. Batcho, Lucy Norris, Krista L. Best | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 November 2021 | Published: 12 January 2023

About the author(s)

Annabelle de Serres- Lafontaine, Department of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada; and Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration (Cirris), Quebec, Canada
Delphine Labbé, Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois, United States
Charles S. Batcho, Department of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada; and Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration (Cirris), Quebec, Canada
Lucy Norris, Motivation Charitable Trust, Bristol, United Kingdom
Krista L. Best, Department of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada; and Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration (Cirris), Quebec, Canada


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Abstract

Background: Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) in less-resourced settings reported barriers to community integration, including inaccessible rehabilitation services, restricted environments and limited social integration. Peer training and entrepreneurial skills training are provided by Motivation, a nonprofit organisation, and Moshi Cooperative University to enhance occupational engagement of individuals with SCI in less-resourced settings.

Objective: This study aimed to explore the impact of peer training and entrepreneurial skills training on the social participation of individuals with SCI living in Tanzania.

Method: Using a qualitative photovoice approach, 10 participants captured meaningful photos and provided captions according to five standardised questions (PHOTO technique) to convey their messages. Participants selected up to 34 photos that best illustrated their experiences in the community. A mixed inductive–deductive thematic analysis was guided by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health.

Results: Two interrelated themes emerged: (1) ‘influencing factors’, which revealed how participants’ inclusion in the community was influenced by their activities and personal and environmental factors and (2) ‘empowerment’, which highlighted participants’ desire to advocate and promote awareness of needs and hopes.

Conclusion: Participants emphasised the importance of accessibility and equal opportunities. Whilst some were able to overcome obstacles, others experienced continued inaccessibility that inhibited meaningful occupations. Daily participation challenges of individuals with SCI in rural Tanzania were highlighted. Although the Motivation programmes were perceived to have powerful impacts on social participation, continued efforts and advocacy are needed to overcome accessibility issues and to meet the physical, psychological and social needs of Tanzanians living with SCI.

Contribution: This article highlights the importance of accessibility and equal opportunities for individuals with disability living in rural Tanzania. Peer-training and entrepreneurial programs offer community-based rehabilitation services that were perceived by people with disabilities to have a powerful impact on social participation and vocation. However, continued efforts and advocacy are needed to meet the needs of Tanzanians living with spinal cord injury.


Keywords

social participation; manual wheelchair; spinal cord injury; peer training; accessibility; social support; advocacy.

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