Although starting off in Cambodia with two “vacations” straight away, I have had a week now full of interviews, 6 of them actually. These have been so interesting and really an insight in what it is like to be a woman under the political circumstances in Cambodia. I wish I could share it in more details, but I guess you would have to read the thesis when it’s done! Finally I’m finished with interviews, after struggling with cancelled ones from people being too scared to talk.
Besides interviews, me, the other swedish student and Hanna from RWI went to the Swedish embassy to vote in the European election. After that we got a private tour of the embassy, which was situated on the 10th floor in a business tower and offered quite a nice view.
When I’m not writing on my thesis or doing research I am trying out all the different kinds of asian food, cambodian desserts and fresh fruit drinks that Phnom Penh offers! I also ride a lot of tuktuks, explore different neighborhoods in Phnom Penh and gotten to know some locals and expats. With less than 3 weeks to go, I better continue with my writing and discover more of the city!
Amoso! Don’t know exactly how it is spelled but it means “hi how are you?” in the local language, Luo, here in Western Kenya.
That is something I say to people maybe 20 times a day here if I am outside the house area, or if people come to visit. Which is something that is normal here (compared to Sweden). Everyone knows one’s neighbour and you are welcome to pass by for a tea or just some chatting.
Still not everyone has met me here, but when I start by saying some greetings in Luo, and actually can have a 2-3 sentence talking with a local, they get surprised and happy – especially the elders.
Most greet with the right hand and says “Amosi, nango? De ma ber.” Meaning, “Hi how are you, I am good”. Others, some more religious elders, greet by clapping their hands three times. I’ve started doing that too, even before them, which makes them laugh. It creates this respect between me as a visitor and the locals.
My previous posts have been somewhat more about the Challanges I’ve struggled with. And a couple of days ago, I was close to be going home because of a situation at home. It was also very tempting for the reasons of the “freedom” and other virtues you are used to at home.
However, I chose to stay. And now, things have just been going up! I chose to look at the bright side for being here and to be thankful for this once in a lifetime experience. For instance, I danced in heavy rain last Saturday with people from the village. Children was jumping up and down and people happy to see “the visitor” taking part from some traditional activities. A woman came up to me, and I first thought it was like a “dance battle”. She wanted to show me some moves – and me to copy it. I have got used with people looking at me, so dancing wet in the rain and making some new moves, was only but pure joy.
I’ve done some interviews also, of course. It makes you feel you are on the right track, when people telling you that they are grateful for you being here and that it is an important study. I can clearly see that the community-based organisation is making many positive changes and development in the village. Something that the informants are confirming themselves.
I continue to go to school and serve lunch to the wonderful children here. It is one of the best parts of my week. And also, the washing on Sundays that is close to a lake with beautiful surroundings with animals walking free.
I can finally say this past week has been very busy, with interviews! YAY! Last week included a smaller breakdown, both because of the lack of internet which is really making everything A LOT harder, and because my lack of interviews and just some general homesickness (never thought I’d say that!). But as usual, after surviving a really bad day like that the next day brought a lot of positivity and strength and motivation! So on Thursday I went about 2,5hrs drive from Accra to an NGO and spent most of the day there, interviewing staff. They had built like a whole small community, with a school even, for rescued child trafficking victims. It was amazing to see and spend the day there. Then both my Friday and Saturday was spent with another organization here in one of the slum-areas in Accra. This is an organization that a Swedish woman started, that I found by finding her old master thesis online. I had a very useful interview with one of the staff, and on Saturday I got to join the youth ambassadors meeting they have every Saturday. They had a little small presentation for me about educational systems in Ghana and child trafficking. WOW, so so grateful for this experience. Afterward, I got to present what I’m doing in Ghana and my studies, and since they had shared the educational system in Ghana I shared what I know about the educational system in Sweden. Huge huge differences, here children who want nothing more than to go to school cannot, or even if they do they face sexual abuse and rape by their teachers, and in Sweden, there’s so many who are complaining about even having to go to school… Perspectives… Then we just continued having very interesting conversations about child trafficking and governments, what needs to change for trafficking to end etc. I left that place with such a warm feeling in my heart.
This week I traveled to the Eastern Ukraine to conduct my final interviews and engage in participant observation among the volunteer fighters. This trip was necessary and I decided to realize it when I saw that I can’t answer my research question by doing my study in Odessa only. Therefore, I had to extend the sample of my research participants. Another alternative could be to reformulate the whole topic, which means the reformulation of the purpose, theory and the method as well.
My first stop was in the city of Pokrovsk or the former Krasnoarmeysk. The city was renamed after the hostilities broke out in this region. I was met by a wonderful and hospitable Ukrainian family to which I am very grateful. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my data gathering in the field without the assistance of those people. They shared their expertise and helped me to reach some important research participants. Thanks to their contacts, I can say that my data gathering has reached the saturation point.
The next day after my arrival, I participated in the posthumous award ceremony at the Donetsk Technical University in Pokrovsk. The event was dedicated to the fallen combatant of the Aydar battalion. This event was followed by a very powerful and emotional anthem singing. Michael Billig would call this banal nationalism, albeit it can provide human beings with solace and a sense of fulfillment in times of war. It was interesting for me whether Ukrainians were so patriotic from times immemorial or there was a particular factor that fueled this nationalism. Almost everyone I have been in contact with describe the conflict in Ukraine as an international conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Only people who have become the victims of the Russian hybrid war with its powerful propaganda understand the Ukrainian crisis as a civil war.
Despite the evidence found in the battlefield that indicates the presence of the Russian military and weapons in Donbass, most of the international community is also reluctant to admit the Russian factor in this bloody war. Although the OSCE is present in Donbass, the organization mostly takes a neutral position in this conflict. However, it is evident that Donbass is the next region of Ukraine after Crimea that Kremlin administration plans to grab from Ukraine. The international community has to support the tenets of international law and not to be indifferent when there is a threat to the territorial integrity of any UN member state. Because such indifference is a real threat to the international peace and security. Separatism spreads violence and there are many peacebuilding techniques, which can be used to stop the hostilities and provide the conflicting sides with a win-win outcome.
Förra helgen spenderade vi i Bogota efter att vi hittat superbilliga biljetter dit. Och vi kände att vi behövde en paus från både plugg och värme. Vi har två vänner som bor där som hostade oss och visade oss runt. Helgens bästa var det sköna vädret. Väldigt nice med svenskt vår-väder och att kunna ta på sig ett par extra tröjor efter 5 veckor i varma och fuktiga Cali. Vi åt god mat, drack mycket varm choklad, promenerade mycket, dansade lite och njöt av fina utsikter.
Denna veckan har vi fokuserat på att skriva, skriva, skriva. Och diskutera det vi skriver. Vi har letat oss till ett nytt ställe efter att ha tröttnat på “vårt” café en aning. Numera häckar vi på ett hostel med pool, det är nyöppnat och därför är där väldigt tomt, lugnt och skönt.
Right now I am struggling a bit to find more persons to interview. The six interviews I have conducted so far was really easy to get a hold so I am a bit frustrated now when things are not going as smooth as before. Hopefully the persons I have written and tried to get in contact with will answer me soon so that I can reach collect more material on the activist’s role in the struggle for legalizing abortion here in Argentina.
Meanwhile I’ve started to transcribe the interviews I have conducted so far, but the process is sloooow. To be honest it is really really boring and it takes such a long time. But with a bit of patience and time I hope I will survive this too.
Otherwise things are continuing as before here in Argentina. I feel comfortable here and I believe its because I was already familiar with the country, culture and the city before going on this MFS adventure. In that sense I believe that I might not face the same struggles with culture shock and difficulties of adaption as other persons who goes on a mfs might do. This does not mean that my stay here is all without difficulties or struggles, it happens to me too, but I think that I have been able to adopt myself rather quickly into the Argentinian rhythm and culture, and that maybe an unanswered message or last minute canceled or changed plans does not surprise me anymore. I have learned to accept these things, that the understanding of the concept of time and planning is not the same as what I am used to. But even though I’ve experienced canceled plans and unanswered messages people are so friendly and warm, there is always time for having some beers or drinking some mate, and for this I love Argentina and the beautiful people I’ve had the opportunity to get to know here.
I spent last weekend in Buenos Aires, the big buzzling capital of the country. It was nice to get out of the smaller city La Plata after a while. Dont get me wrong, I love to live in La Plata, it is a beautiful student town filled with culture events and things to do for students, but after I while a felt that I needed to see something different. Then it is great to have Buenos Aires close, and after an hour long train ride I was able to breath the big city air of the capital.
I spent the weekend by going to the annual book fair, some museums, and eating some nice food. I did also conduct an interview, so my stay in the capital did also include some field work and it was not all vacation mode. The city is huge but its so beautiful and sometimes it feels like Im walking around in an European city because some buildings in some neighborhoods resembles the architecture of cities of Europe. But of course the city has its Latin American vibes, and I think this is the reason for why I love the city so much, its this mix of something familiar with something exciting and culturally different. The city does also contain a lot of Argentinian history and many squares and places are filled with history. Such as the Plaza del Mayo, the square in front of the President palace “Casa Rosada”. During the military dictatorship mothers who’s children got abducted by the military and disappeared, went out to the square and marched in front of the presidents office demanding the State to be accountable for the disappearance of their children and its human rights violations.
Here are some pictures from my weekend in Buenos Aires
I’m in my third week now in Wagwe, Kenya, and the days/weeks has been all from ups and downs. I think the main difference that I experience where I am, from reading others shared stories – is that I am quiet limited to move outside a particular area. Meaning, I cannot go by myself to go for a coffee in town, go for a walk, go to a beach – yeah you know, these things that most people do when they “travel”.
This, however, I know is a field study and not a tourist trip, but still it is challenging. Why I cannot go by myself, I don’t want to write here, but you are welcome to contact me personally of you wish to know.
This has ended up with a lot of alone time, reading, meditating. To help out in the household makes me feel better, as I am being productive.
There has been two accidents (one in my personal life at home, and one here) in the amount of 4 days, which also has made things a bit hard. But with support from wonderful people here and close ones at home, I have managed to get through the obstacles that arose a tempting thought of changing my ticket home earlier.
I have during the past weeks here been to the community school and see how they are working with the children, and it is so wonderful to see!
Also, I’ve met friends and family members of those I’m staying with, whom have giving me some inside information of various things, such as the school system in Kenya. It has given me time to reflect and understand a bit more how things work here – and how hard it actually is for children and youths to go to school.
Now I will be heading to the school to give out some lunch, and afterwards I will be having an interview.
Hi! This week has been fantastic, I had some really interesting experiences seeing what technology within education can do for inclusive education, had a great interview with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and I went to the Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple).
Below you see some photos from the Monkey Temple I went there together with Hanna, she is an MFS student from Stockholm University doing her research on water resources in Kathmandu Valley. The Monkey Temple provides a panoramic view of the city and valley, it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu.
I had the opportunity to meet with Mr Narad Dhamala from the Inclusive Education Section (Center for Education and Human Resource Development) and Ms Sarala Poudel previously Curriculum Development Centre, both working for the Nepal Ministry of Education, Science & Technology. It was a very interesting meeting about how the Government of Nepal work with inclusive education, challenges and future plans. Also, Ms Rajuna Singh, an Australia Awards alumni was my translator for the interview, so helpful and important work! The Ministry is responsible for all overall development of education in Nepal, formulating educational policies and plans and managing and implementing them across the country through the institutions under it. www.moe.gov.np
Rajuna Singh used to work as a teacher within computer education, teaching at a special school in Kathmandu. Through Rajuna I got in contact with two of her former students, Umesh and Darshan, both youth with severe intellectual disability. Of various reasons, none of them have been able to go to school in the last two years. For Umesh it is that he is now too big and his mother can no longer carry him up two sets of stairs (they live on basement level) and to the bus stop. Instead, after training with Rajuna and through donors in Europe, both Umesh and Darshan have received computers adjusted to their needs. Umesh controls his computer through a joystick control by his foot. He has learned how to type using his feet and can now communicate without problems online, he even has his own YouTube Channel called Umesh TECH – check it out as it is fantastic!
Darshan can not talk verbally, however through technology he can now communicate through his computer. He has learned how to write with his nose, he wrote really quick and it was easy conversation for me to speak and he to type back. He is a great writer, now he has written over 150 poems – all in English! Now Umesh and Darshan both study English from home, one of the best things is that they are still connected online and through Facebook keep in touch with each other. They are two fantastic people and I feel priviliged I got to meet them both.
På väg till kontoret idag insåg jag att jag verkligen lever i en bubbla här. Anledningen till denna “uppenbarelse” är att det har sipprat in lite saker hemifrån i denna bubbla och då blir det så uppenbart hur långt därifrån jag är (mentalt). Om jag ska försöka förklara det så känns det som om jag har landat på en annan planet snarare än i ett annat land. På denna plats har jag fått en bonusfamilj som jag bor hos, där det känns “hemma”, där vi delar de glädjen och bekymmer som hör till livet. Jag har också skapat en vardag med allt vad det innebär med rutiner, där irritation över att hamna i solsidan på bussen, att känna väl till öppettiderna i mataffären ingår… Och där jag har nog blivit lite hemmablind för de vackra sakerna på denna ö. Det är så vant nu att jag har svårt att föreställa mig mitt “vanliga” liv hemma. Och det är absolut inte en negativ känsla, det är mer en reflektion från ett MFS 🙂 (För att motverka denna känsla och frångå min hemmablindhet valde jag att gå in i det otroligt vackra hindutempel som jag passerar varje dag. Ni kan se bilderna därifrån.)
Mitt projekt fortskrider. Jag har samlat in ännu mer empiri, jag är så glad för att ha fått möjligheten att besöka en annan kommun också och genomföra intervjuer även där. Som jag beskrev tidigare så är Mauritius ett litet land, Port Louis är en liten storstad… och ute på landet är verkligen lantligt. Mapou:s “centrum”, där jag var igår, består av några offentliga byggnader (kommunhuset, domstolen och ett ministerium) samt en affär och ett gatukök. Mittemot byggnaderna är det sockerrör och åter sockerrör, tills man ser bergen torna upp sig i bakgrunden. Men det var väldigt intressanta möten innanför väggarna i alla fall!
Återstår på min önskelista för att samla in underlag ytterligare en intervju med anti-korruptionsmyndigheten samt en intervju med min underbara kontaktperson här, chefen för Transparency Internationals lokala kontor. Sammantaget känner jag mig väldigt nöjd med datainsamlingen och det har inte minst varit lärorikt att upptäcka att resultatet inte är vad jag hade förutspått. Jag väntade mig ett system mer likt det svenska, men så är inte fallet.
Apropå sockerrör, lilla Gabriel, 3 år, lärde mig igår vad färgerna på Mauritius flagga symboliserar: RÖTT – eld, BLÅTT – hav, GULT – sol och GRÖNT – sockerrör. Mycket målande beskrivning av ön, av dess natur. Så nu är jag lika klok som en treåring!
Jag kan redan nu avslöja att det blir ett spännande nästa inlägg eftersom jag har bokat en utflykt till ön Rodrigues, som ligger ca 600 km österut (och som hör till Mauritius). Så nästa rapport kommer från en annan plats.
This week I have conducted some interviews, and I was also involved in participant observation where I took plenty of field notes in relation to my topic. I was invited to a birthday party by a woman who voluntarily enrolled as a paramedic during the most intensive fights in the Anti Terrorist Operation (ATO) in the Eastern Ukraine. This woman had a rich war experience since she was wounded and taken to hostage by the pro-Russian insurgents. During the mingle I met other women paramedics, as well as some former volunteer fighters who have participated in ATO.
The most remembered event of this week was the fifth anniversary since the events at the Kulikovo field. As a result of the provocation on May 2, 2014, almost 40 people died in the Odessa clashes. Five years ago violence broke out between those who wanted to see Odessa independent and those who supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine. On this fifth anniversary some perceived this day as a tragedy, while others perceived it as a victory and the end of war. During my observation, the contradicting perceptions were evident at the Kulikovo field where one could observe black and red balloons, which were speaking for those who held them. Despite some conflictual situations and quarrels among the participants of two camps, violence was mainly avoided. This was thanks to the professionality of the local police and the new strategies that were adopted by the Ukrainian police in recent years.
This was all from Odessa and I will be back with new stories next week!