Quality of relatedness and its effect on the perceptions of well-being among children aged 8–13 in Sharabiyya Quarter (Cairo, Egypt)
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SubjectChildren; Egypt; Perceptions of well-being; Poverty; Qualitative research; Quality of relatedness
Children constitute nearly 40% of Egypt’s population which has approached 102 million in 2021, and represent the growing majority among its poor according to UNICEF. Poverty negatively affects children’s survival and development, yet little is known about poor Egyptian children’s subjective well-being. Sharabiyya is a densely populated area in Cairo – Egypt’s capital – where a community based organization (CBO) is supporting families whose children risk losing parental care. This research studies the perceptions of well-being of 45 children aged 8-13 who are affiliated with the CBO and assesses how their relationships affect such perceptions. The exploratory study fills an empirical and methodological gap as it uses multiple participatory methods with children, thereby adding to the body of knowledge a new qualitative study on subjective well-being that focuses on children’s relationships from a strengths-based approach. Children’s mothers were also interviewed. Findings suggest that children’s quality of relatedness and perceptions of well-being are affected by kindness/tenderness, trust, joking, generosity/gifts, help/support, providing needs, snubbing/reconciliation, beating, and talking. Children’s best relationships are with mothers, siblings, people in the CBO, fathers, and friends. Children’s relationships develop with time, by sharing activities, through personal positive experience, physical proximity, and guidance from adults. Good relationships represent crucial tools for navigating difficult life circumstances in Sharabiyya and are thus intricately connected to perceptions of well-being. Most children have mixed perceptions of well-being (sometimes happy and sad at other times). The research has policy, research, and programmatic recommendations for promoting urban Egyptian children’s well-being on the national and community levels.
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