Less than a week left, and finally got the dream interview!

Sunday afternoon and I’m writing this only having less than a week left here in Ghana. This past week I’ve really been debating with myself whether or not I should stay a few more weeks here, at least till my VISA expires 3 weeks after my departure date… A big part of me really likes it here, and it already feels like a sort of home. On top of that, I’m not too excited to go back to Sweden at the moment. But a part of me also feels ready to go home, mainly to be able to see friends and family. This last week I’ve just felt really lonely. Also I really really cannot wait to get back to Sweden and all the Swedish food! I’m honestly writing a list on my phone of things I’m gonna eat when I come back, no joke.

The main reason why I feel ready to go home is because I have now scheduled another 3 interviews this coming week, and I feel like the material I have now is what I wanted from the beginning, and good enough. One of these interviews is with the chief of child protection at UNICEF! I couldn’t believe it when I got the answer from him, I cried haha. They were always on top of my list of organizations I wanted to interview. Everyone kept telling me they were a looong shot and it would be quite impossible to get an interview there. Well, if you really really want something fight for it and it will work out one way or the other.

Now I’m heading to the Accra Mall, to sit down at the coffee shop and drink plenty of my favorite coconut icepresso and study! That place has really been a comfy place where I have spent many days studying, drinking coffee, meeting new people, and, buying my new phone, I will miss it!

Stolen phone, discouraged and other struggles 5 weeks in.

My apologies for the delayed update. I got my phone stolen, and couldn’t get a new one until a week later. Plus there hasn’t been any wifi at the house for the past week now so I’m surviving on some mobile data for the most important things.

I must admit that the past 2 weeks have been quite challenging for me… put aside the stolen phone, no internet, plenty of personal struggles and challenges, I feel quite discouraged regarding my field study while writing this post. The stolen phone and lack of internet have really put me back when it comes to reaching my contacts etc. On top of that, my “plan” was to hopefully have conducted all of my interviews by the end of my first month here, that hasn’t worked out. I still only have 4 interviews from one NGO. It is not that I didn’t expect these obstacles, and I always had an open mind knowing there is a big possibility I wouldn’t be able to finish my interviews in the first month. But it stresses me a lot, and me + school-stress is not the best combination… The one thing that calms me a bit is knowing that I have the possibility of staying here in Ghana a bit longer if I need to since I don’t have anything urgent that I have to get back to Sweden for at the moment. Actually not even until mid-August… But it’s hard when you feel so motivated and prepared and then there are things you can’t control that stands in your way…

A little different kind of post today, but this is my reality at the moment and I think it is important to share all the stages of this study, both good and not so good.

To finish off on the positive side, I have managed to go on weekend trips almost every weekend. It has been amazing to see more places in Ghana outside of Accra, I will try to post about it in the coming days!

Things you cannot control: The arrival


Hello everyone,

This is my first blog post of the minor field study in Western Kenya. I will be doing an ethnographic study of a community-based organization and how it works with empowerment of the locals.

I have been in need to land in the new environment and with all its new experiences. You cannot put in words how you feel before you actually know it yourself. And still, it is hard to fully describe what I am and have been experiencing. Everything is so different from what I know.

To begin with, I did not get much sleep on the way here on the planes. First, I went to Copenhagen –> to Amsterdam –> to Nairobi –> to Kisumu. Maybe three hours of sleep all together for the whole 20 hours journey.

Even though I was tired and could not fully comprehend that I was leaving by myself to a foreign country, my goal was to just catch all the flights and get safe to the end point of where I would meet my personal contact, George, in the field in Kisumu airport.

Finally, I arrive around 10 am on Monday morning (22nd April) and I meet my distant friend for the first time. It is a meeting both relieving to see someone that will support you on your journey, but also a little scary to not know how things will turn out.

To make it short, it was a lot of new experiences on the way to the house in which I would be staying.

We drove past very poor areas, and my mind could not comprehend how the world could look like that. To read about it is a complete different thing than to see it. Things cross my mind such as; how can we put money on new hotels and renovate rich areas, and not support this kind of places where clean water, food and shelter is a virtue.

I was trying not to think too much of it as I was very tired and wanted to focus on trying to stay alert.

About a hour later, we arrived at the house. It is in a rural area in Western Kenya where cows and sheeps walk free with people herding them. People are waving to me and children shouts out “wazungo!!”, which means “white person”.

Arriving and entering into the room I would sleep in, all emotions came at once. I could have not prepared myself in advance of the poverty I’d seen.

No matter how much you read about something, you will not fully “understand” it unless you experience it or see it through your own eyes. Then, your body and mind must express it the way it needs to. You have to let go of your own control. So, I could only just let the tears flow.


4 Days later…


Already after the first day, I felt SO much better. I had to just go with the flow, trust the people around me, and let go of what I cannot control. When I saw more and got more adjusted to the environment, I could enjoy the experience and the loving people around me. I even got to see a very special wedding the second day that was combined with two different type of Christian beliefs, something that seldom happens.

Asante sana. I am so thankful for the family I am staying with and all the people I’ve met this far. They have such warm hearts. And the journey, has just begun…

 

 

First few days in Ghana!

HELLO!

My journey has started! Day 4 here in Accra today, and so far I really really REALLY like it here.

My accommodation is great, I live with the best people! A nice bunch of different nationalities, they are definitely a big part of why I already feel so at home here.

Also, the weather is great. So so great, it is definitely very hot and I’m constantly sweating but I’d take this any day instead of cold and grey weather!

The weekend was very chill, getting into everything. Yesterday I had my first interview with one organization, that is working with street children. I spent the first two hours with one of the workers there out on the street to see how it is. This is in an area of Accra that is mentioned as a scrap-yard. Many children live on the street there, picking metal to sell. We did not get to walk more than five minutes before there was a very serious incident with a young boy there. Nothing has ever affected me as much. This place was really something out of this world. That kind of place you would not ever believe existed unless you saw it with your own eyes. Yesterday was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life and that I will keep in my heart forever.

 

The house I’m living in and the backyard!

Some food one of the girls in the house from Ivory Coast cooked for us, amazing!

They are a big fan of everything ginger here.

Introductory/preparatory post

Hi!

Thought it was time for me to post a little introductory/preparatory post here on the blog since my countdown is now down to only a week left until my departure to Accra, Ghana!

So far I think I’ve managed to get everything sorted before leaving! Packing is still on the to-do list… As well as some more school assignments…

As mentioned in my introduction, I’m going to Ghana to conduct a minor field study. The material I will collect during this study will be my main material for my bachelor thesis that I’m currently writing! Human trafficking is a subject that has had my interest for many many years, and children’s rights are my big passion. Since this MFS is funded by SIDA I will be going to Ghana for my study, but I find it very important that people from developed countries understand that trafficking in children also happens in their countries! People around me sometimes say that it doesn’t happen in Sweden (for example), but IT DOES. I will never stop trying to share my knowledge and experience in this area, and this field study for my thesis writing is definitely one way I will be doing that!

Next update will be live from Ghana!

Jamhuri Day, 12th December, is the celebration of Kenya becoming a republic 1,5 years after independence from the British Colony in the 60’s. As of this day in December most/or a lot of working people go on annual leave for Christmas and New Years. It would have been difficult to arrange more interviews etc during this time, however some CGO’s were still working and I was invited to a two day conference/meeting at Friends of Lake Turkana regarding organizing communities. There was an organisation from Peru who were invited to present their work they have done with a similar situation as the one we are experiencing here in Turkana. Their work and results were impressive and hopefully in the future we will see the same strength and work in this region.

Before I attended the meeting and conference at Friends of Lake Turkana, I had had to take a short trip down to Nairobi to sort out my visa, to extend the length of it to be allowed to stay in the country. When I applied for my visa online, I applied for a tourist visa for 10 weeks, and 24h after application it was approved. When I arrived at the airport, the person at the boarder only granted me 4 weeks and said I had to come back down to Nairobi to reapply for an extension of my visa. I was told by my contacts at the organisations that this process would take at least a whole day, so I prepared two full days in Nairobi for this. When I went to the migrations office, I was informed that this is a common procedure for students as there are many occasions where students apply for visa in Kenya because its easier, and then disappear into Ethiopia or Somalia. The extension is to make sure that those applying for the visa is actually staying in the country. Once I arrived at the migration centre it did not take more than 20 minutes for me to get my visa renewed, which left me with two amazing days to spend in Nairobi.

After the conference at Friends of Lake Turkana I ended my stay in Turkana for December and flew down to Nairobi again as there was nothing left for me to do up here. I spent a week in Nairobi working on writing on my project and transcribing some interviews before heading down to the coast to celebrate Christmas and New Years.

I am now back up in Turkana doing my last interviews and I will finally get an interview with the oil company and county government officials. When I have finished here I am moving further south to meet with the environment institution NEMA and Kenya Land Alliance in Nakuru and Nairobi.

Some obstacles and change of submission date

Happy new year everyone!
I seem to be following this trend of delayed updates, but life here takes way too much of my attention.

Even though I was told that going abroad for MFS will not always be as smooth as you want it to be, it is rather more likely that the opposite happens, I am a little disappointed on how slow the work has turned out to be. There have been times where the stress got hold of me with a strong feeling I don’t have enough time to finish it.
Due to different things, almost already from start, difficulties arranging interviews, delays in getting the interviews translated and transcribed, holidays and being sick I have decided to submit my study on a later date in March instead of next week. This decision I made together with my supervisor. She believed that I should give my study the time it needs rather than try to hurry up just for the sake of submitting.
This certainly gave me some peace of mind and I have been able to systematically go through the material. This is my last week in Mumbai. I will try to get some final questions answered from MAVA before I leave. Meet with my translator and some other people I have been in contact with for this study as it is easier while here rather than back in Malmö

I also took some time off to travel for the new years weekend to the countryside outside Pune. The landscape was amazingly beautiful and the sky was clear and full of stars at night. A peaceful New Year’s Eve without the hazzle of fancy dinner and fireworks. The Indian countryside is something completely else from the intense city of Mumbai and it was wonderful to get a break.

 

MAVA and my project

Last week was Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. Diwali symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Homes and buildings are decorated with lights, firecrackers are being set on fire in almost every street corner and it is not only cute little *pops* and *cracks* but rather the sounds of tiny bombs. Everyone is laughing at me for jumping of my chair from being startled. It feels like even the cats who lives in my apartment are looking at me weirdly after my little jerking dancemoves.

As promised in my last post I will give you a short introduction to the organisation I will be working with and what my study will be about.

The Mumbai based NGO Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA) is the first men’s organization in India directly intervening against gender-based violence towards women. For the past 25 years MAVA has been working on engaging men and boys in India on gender issues and equality. Over the years, they have developed several methods for involving young people through interactive workshops, street-plays, newspapers, poetry reading sessions, talks and discussions.

See their website for more info: www.mavaindia.org

I will be doing a qualitative study on one of MAVA’s programs. A one year mentor-training program engaging male college students in conversations addressing issues related to gender based discrimination and violence. The growing demand of involving men and boys to achieve gender equality has led to an increased number of organisations and programs around the world to answer this demand. Where MAVA is one of them. With the theory that gender norms and social values are socialised from an early age, leading to the unequal power relation, MAVA tries to break gender stereotypes and change men’s and boys’ views on patriarchal society. I intend to interview 10 college students who have recently completed MAVAs one-year mentor training to investigate how they describe their experiences of the program. Focus will be on the training program seen from the participating students’ perspective ending in a report for MAVA to use in developing their approaches and programs.

My overall research question aims to cover: How do the interviewed participants of MAVA’s mentoring training describe the programs content and the impact it has had on how they perceive gender-based discriminations, equality and patriarchal norms in society after completing the one-year program?

Priya and me at Tata Institute of Social Sciences

One last exciting thing before I end this post is that I yesterday met with Priya, my translator for this project. She is herself studying a master in Social Work at Tata Institute of Social Sciences here in Mumbai. It was great to meet her to discuss the best way to go about the interviews which I hope we can start with next week!

Take care,

Petronella

First week in Mumbai

India, Mumbai:
As part of my Bachelor degree in Social Work at Malmö University I spent five months earlier this year in Mumbai to carry out my field placement (Verksamhetsförlagd utbildning). The internship was with a non-governmental organisation called Vacha which focuses on girls’ and young women’s empowerment and education. Vacha is a term in several Indian languages meaning speech, articulation and self-expression and the organisation work to give the girls a voice and a platform to be able to speak up in their communities and public spaces. If you want to read more about their work in their community centres in and around Mumbai you can follow the link below: www.vacha.org.in

 

Going home in the “rik” Click for GIF

I am now back in Mumbai for a MFS and looking forward to further experience this fast paced and intense life that this city, with a population of about 22 million, has to offer. The people, the food, the sounds and the smells. The culture, the colours and celebrations. The luxury and the poverty. The traffic… well maybe not so much the traffic but at least you always have something interesting to look at while you are stuck in an auto rikshaw. Surrounded by hundreds of other “riks”, cars, motorbikes, trucks, dogs, goats, street sellers, all while in 36 degrees, breathing in the heavenly smell of pollution. How can one  not I love it?

 

Adventures in South Mumbai

 

 

India is the fastest growing economy in the world. However, not everyone seems to be onboard the fast moving train of progress. The Indian middle class might be growing but there is, for example, a gaping rural-urban divide as well as a gender discriminations when it comes to economic progress and development. So yes there is a whole bunch of inequalities in this country. Not only economic, but also when it comes to social rights  and opportunities. But there is also good things happening:

A ban of single use plastic
Decriminalizing homosexuality

The above links are just two examples of big top-level decisions. However, on grassroot level great things are happening every day. I have seen this during my internship and I get motivated by these hardworking people that want to see positive change in their communities and country.

So follow me on my two months minor field study to see where it takes me. In my next post I will introduce you to my project and the organisation I will be working with – Men Against Violence and Abuse.

Take care of eachother,

Petronella

Coming to an end

Now I find myself in paradise. No kidding. Dolphins swimming, palm trees swaying, waves crashing and birds singing. So, once we landed in Arambol we realized what a crazy place it was. Filled with drunken Russian kids, harassing sales men and loud clubbing music. Not really our scene. We succeeded in getting up early to watch the dolphins and hide from these obnoxious masses, but soon they would fill the beach and shopping areas and we were overwhelmed again. In the midst of this chaos I got sick, but was ok with spending my days in my room with AC away from these intense cultural chasms. Agnes hated Arambol even more than I did and took a train from north to south Goa. She said it was a lovely quiet ride and recommends it to future visitors to this south west coast. Once I was feeling better I took a taxi ride down with a frustrating driver who continuously asked me to date him. I lied and said I was married with kids, but this had little or no effect on his advances. In my mind I was ready to smack him silly if he tried anything, but thankfully this was not needed. Soon however I made it to Agonda where a wide white beach, calm sweet cows, more dolphins, and wild horses greeted me in the sun. I felt as if I had gone from party-ville to paradise. Here Agnes and I were able to focus and finish our analysis. It was a complicated procedure since we had 12 pretty individual and long interviews, but we managed after some time to categorize our material and then lay them in themes. If one wants to visit Goa I recommend visiting Agona, its quiet and beautiful. We stayed at a guest house called Monsoon, run by a German guy and a sweet Nepalese family. I made friends with adorable calves who rule the beach and learned to love paneer tikka. After ten days in the Agondan paradise Agnes flew back home and left me to fend for myself in the beach life. I bunkered down for three days and worked until my bum was sore from sitting, and finished my results. Or rather the first draught of part of the results. Then I took a day off, nice. After diving into Agonda it was time to move to my next destination. Little did I know it would be an even more secluded and surreal paradise beach. Its called Little cove beach or Little Cola beach, depending on who you talk too. I met Nina, my fellow nurse colleague, and we have been soaking up the sun, eating yummy food and learning to stand on our heads. I can’t complain. It’s an awesome place to spend the last couple weeks of my India adventure. Also a pretty good place to try to finish this paper before I go back to Sweden. Im hopeful that I’ll succeed even though its extremely tempting to just space out and watch the waves and palm trees. So, yeh, needless to say I recommend coming to this little gem of a place if you like the quiet things in life.