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“THE MOTHERS OF SICK CHILDREN”: PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES, BETWEEN CAREGIVING AND VULNERABILITY IN MEKELLE AND WUQRO (TIGRAY- NORTHERN ETHIOPIA) [Abstract ID: 1207-11]
Based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Mekelle and Wuqro (Tigray) between October 2014 and August 2015 focused on disability from an anthropological perspective, aiming to explore the double role of the parents of children with disabilities as caregivers and vulnerable citizens. Due to the shortage of residential care and rehabilitation services and to the lack of home help, the caregiver role falls on the family, especially the women of the family, and the parents of children with disabilities face many challenges in managing the situation. After in -depth interviews with mothers and relatives of disabled children it emerges that they experience forms of stigmatization from the community that relates disability with some religious and “traditional” perceptions related to “fault” and “punishment”. They also do not receive governmental aid or help because they are not “ill” or “disabled” themselves. Taking care of disabled children means to have difficulties in carrying out normal daily and working activities. In this way the spiral of poverty and the inability to provide for better care for their children increases. Through the life stories of the informants and the evidences collected in the field, I would like to shed light on the vulnerability of these social actors and on the “disabling” effects that caregivers of disabled children experience in the everyday life.