Pathways of resilience for children facing socio-economic adversities: Experiences from Future Families’ OVC Programmes in South Africa

Pamhidzayi Berejena Mhongera & Antoinette Lombard - Children and Youth Services Review


Some children display extraordinary strengths in the face of adversity unlike others in similar circumstances. Instead of succumbing to the negative effects of socio-economic adversities, they manage to cope, establishing positive developmental trajectories, which are critical for the achievement of successful outcomes. This qualitative, phenomenological study explores experiences of resilience among OVC benefiting from programmes implemented by Future Families (a non-profit organisation) in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. Five children were purposefully selected, one from each programme site, on the basis of demonstrated ability in confronting adverse situations while maintaining positive adaptation and effective functioning as individuals, at home, school and in the community. Data were collected from stories on pictures drawn and in-depth interviews which were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings show that the socio-economic adversities that participants face affect their social-emotional well-being. However, through personal agency, supportive relationships and programmes implemented by Future Families, OVC develop pathways of resilience which help them to produce better-than-expected outcomes. The study recommends the strengthening of NPOs working with children and families in communities experiencing socio-economic adversities, as well as increased participation of children in resilience-building studies, policy and practice.

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