Strength-based approach in Social Work: Professionals’ experiences in working with refugee youth in Nakivale refugee settlement, Uganda
SWSD 2018: Social Work, Education and Social Development - ENVIRONMENTAL AND COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY | HUMAN SOLUTIONS IN EVOLVING SOCIETIES
The aim of the research was to explore the area of social work practice with refugee youth in Nakivale refugee settlement, Uganda, in relation to the use of strength-based approach. Uganda is one of the main refugee hosting countries in Eastern Africa and children represent over 60% of the overall refugee population according to UNHCR (2017). In spite of adversities, limitations and precarious living conditions in refugee settlements and camps (Malkki, 1995; Agier, 2011), the strengths and resilience embodied in humans represent actual resources when acknowledged and promoted (Saleebey, 2012; Simich & Andermann, 2014). Therefore, within this context and drawing from social work literature in terms of good practices in working with refugees, the strength-based approach was used as theoretical framework. Ethnography was used as a research design and the data was collected using qualitative methods and a purposeful sampling. The main sample consisted of 25 professionals from 6 organizations operating in the settlement, focused on the work with youth on different areas of practice and service provision. Moreover, the voices of the youth were captured through FGDs. The findings show that the strength-based approach is used and acknowledged by professionals in their practices. This being reflected through their attitude towards their clients and at a deeper level encountered within their values, motivations and their passion expressed both for their work and humanity. Emphasizes are made on the importance of genuine relationships, faith and spirituality as resources and the strength encountered in love, hope, dreams and positive thinking as reflections from their experiences in working with the youth. Despite vulnerabilities, risks and limitations encountered in the refugee settlement, the refugee youth is presented as a resourceful and resilient population, where creativity, engagement, innovation and hope and are visible, therefore supporting the strength-based approach and its use.
refugees,youth,strength-based approach,resilience,professionals’ experiences