Jobb, jobb, jobb

Den senaste veckan har jag arbetat hårt. Jag genomförde de intervjuer som var inbokade på kommunen och till och med ännu fler! Fått chansen att träffa internrevisionen och också de externa revisorerna och det blev några mycket värdefulla och intressanta samtal. Nedan en bild på mig på “brottsplatsen”, utanför kommunhuset i Port Louis.

Efterarbetet med intervjuerna är tidskrävande och definitivt den mindre spektakulära delen av uppsatsarbetet, men det måste göras. Jag tröstar mig med att se värdet i att det ger tillfälle till att strukturera tankarna, men det känns lite som jag trampar vatten just nu utan att komma någonvart. Har också spenderat många timmar med att läsa på om olika tänkbara teorier och även om jag har fått mycket bra inspel från min handledare (tack Anders Edvik, dina kommentarer hjälper mig så mycket!) så har en lätt panik börjat infinna sig i mitt sinne… Kommer jag fixa att samla allt material till något vettigt? För att behålla lugnet tar jag långa promenader som paus. Det svåra är att återvända till skrivandet.

Idag är det Valborgsmässoafton och det känns så avlägset. I stunder som denna känner jag verkligen hur långt borta hemifrån jag är, inte främst i avstånd utan mest i tankarna. Det sker odramatiskt och nästan utan att man märker det, men helt plötsligt blir den främmande verkligheten bekant och man känner sig bekväm och trygg i sin nya tillvaro. Såklart har jag mycket att tacka den helt underbara familjen som jag bor hos för detta, och den vackra omgivningen hjälper också till, men nog är vi bra på att anpassa oss. I alla fall, trevlig Valborg till er som tänder brasorna där hemma idag 🙂

Innan jag återgår till mitt arbete vill jag berätta en rolig historia. Ända sedan jag kom hit har folk talat om att vintern kommer snart. (Haha, ja, det är nästan som i GoT, “winther is coming”.) Och igår, när jag kom till kontoret, frågade en av tjejerna mig om jag nu förstod vad de hade menat (jag var verkligen frågande när de berättade det de första gångerna). Jag var tvungen att erkänna att jag inte fattade alls vad hon menade. Då visade hon mig att hon hade sin tröja med sig igår morse för hon frös. För att ni ska förstå komiken i detta så hade vi cirka 29 grader igår. Så jag visade bilder till henne på vårt hus i snö som jag tog bara någon vecka innan jag reste. Vi skrattade båda åt vad olika det är vad vi upplever som exotiskt…

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!

Our last post

We have now spent 10 nights in Zanzibar as an end to our adventure. During these days we have also been accompanied by friends from home and have spent most of the days in the sun and at the pool. Zanzibar offered fantastic white beaches and variety of food. We also got to experience swimming with dolphins when we were on a snorkeling tour.

At the time of writing, we are at the airport in Dar es Salaam and are waiting for our departure home. There have been eight fantastic weeks in Tanzania where we have experienced a new culture and created many memories for life. However, we are now looking forward to coming home to Sweden and to meet up with loved ones.

“My dear visitors..”

Here comes a late update from our last days in Moshi. We spent most of the time refining our essay, but we had time to do two excursions. One of the days we visited a museum, the Chagga Museum, as a dominant tribe in the Kilimanjaro region. The museum was built by a man from the Chagga tribe, he himself collected the material and built up an example of how the Chagga population lives.

The next day we visited a waterfall a bit from Moshi. With the height in mind, the air was considerably cleaner and the climate was more pleasant. Unfortunately, the waterfall was not as powerful as it could be because the rain season is delayed.

In the field in Kathmandu

Hi! This week has been busy with several interviews and catching up with Nepali friends in Kathmandu.  I had an interview with Mr Raju Basnet and Mr Ramesh Pokharel, two Australia Awards short course in inclusive education alumni from the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN). NFDN is an umbrella body of persons with disabilities and represents more than 300 member organizations in Nepal. They do an amazing job working with advocacy, awareness raising, and capacity building within inclusive education.

Me and NFDN staff Mr Raju Basnet and Mr Ramesh Pokharel
Me and NFDN staff Mr Raju Basnet and Mr Ramesh Pokharel

This week I also got to learn how to make Nepali momo’s (like dumplings), my favorite food in Nepal :). It was my friend Rajana that invited me home for lunch and together with her mother and sister we made soo many momos.  I ate way too many momo’s but they are so yummy! I have known Rajuna since 2017 so it has been great to be able to see her now while I am in Nepal.

Me, Rajana and her family making Nepali momo
Me, Rajana and her family making Nepali momo

I also had the opportunity to meet with  NB Limbu, Director and founder of the Nepal Association of the Blind (NAB). NAB is a national umbrella organization of the blind with over 3000 members across the country. They work to raise awareness and advocacy around inclusive education through providing i.e. computer training, digital accessible information system, and capacity building training.

Me and Mr NB Limbu from the Nepal Association of the Blind
Me and Mr NB Limbu from the Nepal Association of the Blind

I was invited for a lovely Easter BBQ Nepali style which was great. We all had to wear topi (the hat on our heads) and ate lots of yummy food and drank Namaste Nepali beer. Really nice evening.

Easter BBQ celebration in Nepal
Easter BBQ celebration in Nepal

Celebration of the Orthodox Easter

Easter is celebrated somewhat late in the Eastern Europe in comparison with Sweden. The celebration was today, the 27th of April. Tomorrow people will go to the church to conduct some religious rites. There will be holidays for some days in the whole country.

Easter cake, Пасха
Cossack figurines in the streets of Odessa

This week was full with both meaningful experience and failures. I have conducted more interviews with volunteers from various battalions. The most remembered was the time spent at the headquarters of the Ukrainian Voluntary Army or Українська Добровольча Армія in Ukrainian. I made both participant observation and conducted some interviews there. The building of the headquarter had a symbolic meaning since it was build in the pre-Tsarist era and hosted various meetings of Ukrainian nationalists. Saturated with historic symbolism, the building also resembled features of a museum with patriotic spirit. One could encounter Ukrainian maps from various historical periods, as well as the drawings of children and adolescents.

At the headquarters of the Ukrainian Voluntary Army
A map in the building of the Ukrainian Voluntary Army showing the loss of Ukrainian territories to the neighboring countries
Lost Ukrainian territories in rose colour, post WW1 period
Inspirational drawings of school children that praise volunteer fighters

This week I met people from the international office at the Mechnikov University. The person who initially promised to be my contact person and assist with the practical issues advised me to contact international office since they were “more competent” to assist me with practical issues. However, I just wasted my time with these people. Because in the end, they told me that it does not work this way, and that Malmö University had to inform them about me from the beginning. I understood one thing here in Ukraine very clearly! It is very difficult to make progress if the issue concerns signature or stamples. But it was still unclear to me why such simple things can become that difficult in this post-Soviet country. The international office in fact rejected the decision of their own colleague who initially agreed to be my contact person in the field. Nevertheless, this surprise did not disappoint me. Fortunately, during my time in Ukraine I became acquainted with so many kind people who are ready to assist me at any time. Some of my new Ukrainian acquaintances call me almost everyday, ask me how I am doing and try to help even when I don’t ask for it. For a week ago I had a fever, and I told this to a former volunteer combatant during our telefon conversation. After 20 minutes he was in front of my door with some medicine and food that he bought for me. I did not ask him for this, but it was a pleasant feeling, especially when a person is in a foreign country. All in all, I would like to thank the international office at the Mechnikov university for wasting my time! Unfortunately, I can’t be uncritical about the existing bureaucracy in the governmental structures of Ukraine. These norms, I believe are the remnants of the old regimes, and they are saturated with Soviet mentality.

This week I also spent some time in exploring the city of Odessa. Odessa is one of those cities where you can’t get enough satisfaction. You want to come back here again and again. It is really the pearl of the Black Sea. I have to confess that Odessa is one of those few cities in the world that I have become in love with.

I love Odessa

Glad Påsk! Happy Easter! Щасливого Великодня! Счастливой Пасхи!

Sista intervjun avklarad

Buenos días!

Nu har vi avklarat sista intervjun och det har varit otroligt lärorik och givande att få träffa alla dessa engagerade människor och lyssna på när de delar med sig av sina erfarenheter. Våra intervjupersoner har varit människor från olika organisationer som på olika sätt arbetar med barn och unga som är desplazados, så kallade internflyktingar. Främst har intervjuerna ägt rum i Siloe och Aguablanca som är de två mest utsatta områdena i Cali.

En intervju vi hade i Aguablanca var särskilt intressant då det var med en grupp på fyra kvinnor från Pacific som själva var desplazados och startat en musikskola för barn och unga för att lära ut deras kulturella arv i form av musik och poesi. Kvinnorna var otroligt engagerade och uttrycksfulla och ibland svarade dem på frågor i dikter och i sång. De var klädda i traditionella Afro-Colombianska kläder med mycket färger, mycket smycken och håret i en turban. Deras svar var stundvis väldigt sorgliga och de bar på många tunga historier, men allt de berättade gjorde de med en otrolig styrka och optimism.

Denna veckan har vi hittat ett café som vi har som vår skrivplats, lugnt och svalt och med gott kaffe. Så nu börjar nästa steg i arbetet med att läsa, analysera och skriva. Förutom uppsatsen har vi ägnat mycket tid åt att försöka få koll på alla olika steg och snurrar i salsa och ätit god mat. Ikväll ska vi och se en tango-show med vår kontaktperson och hennes familj.

Un abrazo!
Malin y Rolanda

Bild 1: Från vår oas i värmen och skrivplats
Bild 2: Tillsammans med vår nära vän och tolk José påväg till intervjun i Aguablanca


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…



En vecka som turist i Mauritius

Otroligt men sant. Jag vet att jag upprepar mig själv, men det är obegripligt hur fort tiden rusar iväg när man är på plats. Det gör mig nästan lite stressad, även om jag känner att jag har hunnit med en del. Frågan är om jag kommer att hinna med allt jag måste och vill 🙂

Förra veckan hade besök hemifrån (se mitt förra inlägg), vilket gjorde att mina rutiner ändrades något. Det blev nästan som en mini-semester mitt i allt. Det var mysigt att få träffa min sambo men också att uppleva ön mer som en turist. Utöver att ha besökt huvudstaden så hyrde vi också en bil och körde runt ön för att besöka alla turistställen. Vi hade några fantastiska dagar i och under vattnet, på stränder, i städer och i bergen. Det finns vackra vandringsleder i öns mitt med vattenfall och tropisk skog. Och som dykare måste man bara säga wow, helt otroligt…

Men nu har jag återgått till mina tidigare rutiner och är tillbaka på kontoret, laddad för en ny härlig arbetsvecka. Efter att ha “knäckt koden” för att få möten på plats genom att knacka dörr har jag nu lyckats få fem intervjuer inbokade till imorgon, då jag kommer att få träffa de tjänstepersoner som jag ville träffa från början. Det känns tillfredsställande och gör att jag känner mig mindre stressad. Just nu ser det ljust ut!

Efter min “turist-vecka” på ön har jag funderat en del på mina intryck. Det är intressant att jämföra att vara turist med att vara mer med de lokala. Att få möjlighet till att leva hos och arbeta med dem som lever här ger en verkligen en djupare förståelse för landet. Ett exempel är ett samtal jag hade med familjen som äger stället där jag bor, efter vårt besök på Aapravasi Ghat (museet och minnet för de främst indiska arbetarna som togs hit för att arbeta på sockerplantagen, som jag beskrev i mitt förra inlägg). Familjen är av afrikanskt ursprung (alltså inte från indiskt ursprung) och de menade att Aapravasi Ghat enbart beskrev en del av landets historia. De slavarna som hade tagits hit före den tid när slaveriet slutligen avskaffades nämns inte och deras historia finns det inget museum för. Det slog mig hur lite de olika folkgrupperna som lever tillsammans på ön har blandat sig med varandra och hur starka deras identiteter är. Kanske inget man som turist skulle lägga märke till, på ytan är allt harmoniskt… Ett annat exempel är det här med helgdagar. I Mauritius lever många olika religioner sida vid sida. Skulle allas helgdagar blir “röda dagar” så blir det inte många arbetsdagar kvar på året. Därför bestäms det från år till år vilka dagar som blir officiella helgdagar i landet. Till exempel var Påsken inte helg här i år. Men, som en man sade till mig, så är det ofta att någon religion har någon högtid, och där är nästan varje vecka att någon som firar nyår 🙂

Här kommer några bilder från denna vackra ö.

Team dinner + trip to Pokhara (Nepal)

Hi all! This last week has gone so quick! Last weekend I had to do some online work for my work back home, hence I booked a nice hotel (Hotel Radisson Kathmandu) to make sure I had internet and electricity for the full two days. It was so nice to stay in a nice hotel, however I spent in one night the same as I usually spend in one week. BUT I got to enjoy a hot shower!

I was working from my hotel room at Radisson for two days
Working from hotel room

I had a lovely night together with my colleagues at Australia Awards as well as staff from the Australian Embassy. Sunita, my contact person in Nepal works at the Australian Embassy (in red in below photo) and she has been amazing. Any question – she will always have an answer, she invites me to events, and she helps me to get in contact with people I want to interview. Could not have asked for a better contact in the field.

Team dinner and drinks with staff from the Australia Awards and the Australian Government
Team dinner and drinks with staff from the Australia Awards and the Australian Government

Last Sunday night my husband Andrew arrived from Sweden! He only had one week in Nepal but it was great to show him around and for him to meet my friends and colleagues. We spent 4 nights at a holiday destination called Pokhara, such a nice place. You can either go by bus approx. 7-12h or fly 25min to get there… In Pokhara we did a fantastic 3h trek to Sarangkot view point where we had a beautiful view of the city as well as the Himalayas mountain range.

My husband and I in Kathmandu
Andrew and I in Kathmandu
View in Pokhara of Phewa Lake and the Himalayans
View in Pokhara of Phewa Lake and the Himalayas
3h trek to Sarangkot View Point - here photo of Pokhara
3h trek to Sarangkot View Point – here photo of Pokhara

I went to a really interesting presentation by Maggie Doyne, an American philanthropist who has built a children’s home, women’s center and school in Surkhet, Nepal. She won the CNN Hero of the Year Award in November 2015. An inspiration!

Presentation by Maggie Doyne
Presentation by Maggie Doyne