Experiences and psychosocial adjustment of Darfuri female students affected by war: An exploratory study

Authors:
Alia Badri, H. W. Van den Borne, Rik Crutzen
Published Online:
24 Jul 2012
DOI:
10.1080/00207594.2012.696652
Pages:
944-953
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 5

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This paper presents the personal accounts of Darfuri students studying at Ahfad University for Women in Omdurman, Sudan. Their war‐related exposure, current ongoing life challenges, emotional distress, and coping strategies were explored using a semistructured interview protocol with a sample of 20 students. Through interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), the Darfuri students’ stories illustrated that they were exposed to an array of traumatic war events, including personal experiences of parental separation, injury and death of family members, and shortages of essential life‐sustaining supplies in internally displaced camps. Also, they were confronted with myriad current life hassles and urban‐cultural challenges, including being physically distant from their families, and losing the shelter of parents, the encouragement of extended family members, and their rich and familiar social support networks. Urban‐cultural challenges and lack of environmental mastery applied to most Darfuri participants as they relocated to Omdurman city, which included negotiating an unfamiliar transport system, learning the routes and directions to important city landmarks, and insufficient funds for basic hygienic essentials. Emotional distress reactions were coded by forming two distinct lists: directly mentioned by the participant; and observations of emotional manifestation during the interview. Patterns emerged that may be similar to symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders; for example, the DSM‐IV criteria for symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and major depression. Strong religious practices and beliefs (such as praying and reading the Quran), ability to form interpersonal relationships, availability of social support networks, and a positive future outlook seemed to augment their ability to cope with their subsequent emotional distress owing to war‐related exposures, current ongoing life hassles and urban‐cultural challenges.

© International Union of Psychological Science