The Ontology of Hope: A Phenomenological Study of Constituents of Hope among Street Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
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Amidst poverty and social inequalities, street children have emerged as a complex phenomenon to be examined at a demographic, conceptual, theoretical and empirical level. In that respect, this dissertation sought to examine and describe street children’s hope for the future and its constituents. This study was theoretically grounded in the conservation of resources, resilience and social disorganization theories in order to explain the new waves of characteristics of hope that emerge in a poverty-related context among street children. Using a phenomenological approach (Creswell, 2009; Moustakas, 1994; Van Manen, 1990) and a semi-structured interview guide, 25 street children who are from the ages of 14 through 17 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti were conveniently recruited and interviewed. The study findings suggested that hope is not only a construct. Hope is also a way of life that is associated with lived experiences of actual individuals and their life narratives, especially the ones living in a poverty-related context. Second, hope is non-secular. Notions of spirituality, religiosity and divinity/deity are strongly emphasized in the current study of street children’s hope. Third, hope is not apolitical. The macro-system, especially politics and social structures influence the fluctuations of hope on a continuum. Fourth, hope is both individual and relational. The relational aspect of hope is as crucial, if not more, as the individual-centered hope. Fifth, hope is existential and is considered as the core element in the survival mode– survival attitudes, behaviors, and practices. Overall, in terms of implications, the study provided new avenues for social sciences researchers to de-construct and re-construct their worldviews, conceptualization, and theorization on individuals and their hope for the future.