Resilience factors in families who have lost their homes in a shack fire
Thesis (MA (Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.
Informal settlements exist all over South Africa and are expanding and multiplying as people seek better jobs close to urban areas. The close proximity of the thousands of shacks has enabled the rapid spread of massive fires in informal settlements. The purpose of this study was to identify resilience characteristics in families who have lost their home in a shack fire. Family resilience refers to the family’s ability to achieve normal family functioning despite having experienced a traumatic event. The focus of this study was on 38 families from an informal settlement just outside Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. The study was conducted from a mixed methods approach and made use of a cross-sectional survey research design. Data was collected through the use of a biographical questionnaire, an open-ended question, and self-report questionnaires based on the Resilience Model of Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation. The results from the qualitative data indicate that the families indicated working together as a family as being vital to resilience. Material support from the municipality and extended family, shelter provided by members of the extended family and financial support from the extended family were also indicated as essential in overcoming a crisis. The results from the quantitative data indicate a significant positive correlation between family adaptation and: (i) the quality of communication within the family, (ii) the fortitude and durability of the family unit, (iii) the family’s sense of internal strengths, dependability, and ability to work together, and (iv) the family’s sense of being in control of family life rather than being shaped by outside events and circumstances.