Persons with physical disabilities are one of the excluded sections of society and they face a number of problems in their daily lives, owing to the cultural beliefs regarding disabilities in their communities. The study explores the cultural beliefs of people with physical disabilities in a community rehabilitation centre in Namibia. The study was informed by a concern that many community based rehabilitation programmes fail to recognise that cultural factors influence attitudes towards disability and rehabilitation.
The goal of the study was to explore and describe the cultural beliefs of people with physical disabilities in a community rehabilitation centre in Oniipa, Namibia. The researcher conducted this study from a qualitative approach. In this study, the life experiences of a purposive sample of people with physical disabilities are explored. Qualitative data was gathered by means of focus group discussions. A total sample of 21 participants was drawn from three constituencies under the Evangelical Lutheran Church Rehabilitation Centre in Oniipa.
The study s findings indicate that there are cultural beliefs that perceive disabilities as a result of witchcraft, punishment for wrongs done in the past, bad luck, or bad omens to the family, and also regard people with physical disabilities as useless and worthless. However, people with disabilities and their families have strong positive views about disabilities, seeing it as a gift from God and they also believe the causes of disabilities to be diseases, accidents and natural causes.
The study concludes that even though communities hold negative cultural opinions about physical disabilities, which in turn inform community practices, the situation is changing especially in the immediate families of people with disabilities. Interventions and campaigns that build on these changing cultural beliefs are more likely to be acceptable and improve community integration and equalisation of opportunities. The study proposes creating an awareness of the social model to confront problems caused by disabling environments and cultures. To further ensure that programmes promote the inclusion of people with disabilities (PWDs), a key recommendation from the study is to develop programmes and evaluate their effectiveness with a view to adopt best practices that can be replicated in other communities.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2015.