Ups and downs: after rain comes sunshine!

Hi people,

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.


After lunch in school

En rapport inifrån min bubbla

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.

First weeks in Cambodia

So, now I’ve been in Phnom Penh for a while and despite minor questionable  well-being the first week here, I am totally loving it now! I am currently writing this at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights’ office in the capital of Cambodia, an organization that have incredibly helpful staff! I’ve recieved more help than I’ve wished for, and they have put me into contact with numerous knowledgeable people within the field of womens rights and helped me getting interviewees. They also let me use their office as my work place, which is perfect for focusing on my thesis.

So far, I’ve conducted two interviews with women from an institution here which have been truly helpful and informative. Except for this, I have had meetings with different experts of women’s rights in Cambodia.

 

Students teaching us traditional dancing in pre-New Year celebrations on campus.

My plan was to start with the interviews as soon as possible after arriving in Phnom Penh, but easier said than done. First it took a while to know exactly what women I wanted to interview and how to get in contact with them, and then it was Khmer New Year; a big holliday when the city cleared out and people went away visiting their family. So me and my friend Kalle (another student doing his MFS here) followed the customs and went on vacation meeting up with my friends from back home in Koh Rong Samloem – a beautiful island! After a few days with beautiful suroundings, a very dangerous sun and no internet we headed back to the mainland and visited Kampot. Also this place was lovely, with welcoming people and a beautiful national park which we went to on scooters.

Not joking when saying the hat was essantial for surviving the sun on this island (Koh Rong Samloem)

 

Back in Phnom Penh after a week of holliday I managed to get two interviews before having to leave the country for a visa run. These went really well, with such helpful people participating and the material was brought with me for retyping in Vietnam. Writing interspersed with sightseeing, I managed to meet up with my old friends again as well as new friends while seeing more of beautiful Vietnam. After a few days in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) and Mui Ne I headed back to Phnom Penh ready for my next interviews!

(Since it doesn’t work to upload more pictures, I’ll share more next time!)

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.


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…

 

 

Framme i Cali, Colombia

Vi har inte kunnat logga in tidigare så här kommer ett lite försenat inlägg vi skrev vår första vecka och så fyller vi på därifrån.

Det är bara några dagar kvar av mars och vi har nu varit här i Cali i en vecka och tiden har sprungit iväg betydligt snabbare än vi hade tänkt oss. Första dagarna hade vi båda mycket jetlag och kunde inte göra mycket annat än att vila och komma i ordning. Vi bor i ett delat hus i området San Cayetano som är nära många restauranger, en park och busshållplats. Det var otroligt skönt att ha ett boende ordnat redan innan som dessutom jag, Malin, bott i tidigare under min halvårs praktikperiod här.

Idag, tisdag, var vårt första besök på en organisation i ett av de mest utsatta områdena i Cali. Området är utsatt på grund av att det under de senaste årtiondena flyttat dit många människor som flytt andra delar av Colombia i hopp om ett bättre liv och en ljusare framtid. Detta har resulterat i att många hus byggts som inte registrerats och på mark som inte officiellt ägs av familjerna. Organisationen driver en skola för barn årskurs 1-5 med alla grundämnen inklusive engelska vilket annars bara är något överklassen har råd till i Colombia. De har på grund av olika samarbeten lyckats pressa ner priset så att fler ska ha möjlighet att betala för sina barns utbildning där och dessutom få lära sig engelska. Vi ska tillbaka på fredag för en mer formell intervju med rektorn. Vi har även ett par möten inbokade med ytterligare några sociala organisationer här i Cali.

Ikväll ska vi på middag hos vår kontaktperson för att diskutera vår studie och hur hon kan hjälpa till. Vi har även med oss lite choklad och annat gott att bjuda på från Sverige.

Un abrazo!
Malin y Rolanda

Pole Pole

Since our last update, we have experienced five days without power and hot water. After these five days had passed, we were then overjoyed to be able to take a hot shower and charge our phones. Another week has passed, and we have only nine days left here in Moshi before traveling to Zanzibar for sunshine and bathing. This week we have approached the end of our thesis and have received feedback from our mentor at Malmö University. It feels like a relief that our last work in our education is soon to be completed.

In addition to writing on the essay, we have also managed to visit the International School here in Moshi. We got to attend a lesson in history and one in global politics. The international school differed a lot in comparison to the local school where we conducted our interviews. At the local school there was a completely different authority from the teachers, for example, the students stood up until the teacher gave them permission to sit down. Followed by the students answered the teacher in choir. When it comes to the international school, there were instead several similarities with how upper secondary schools work at home in Sweden. There were also considerably more resources at the International school, they have both swimming pool, boarding house and cafe. Unlike Sweden’s upper secondary schools, the international school have its own seamstress, but also staff who handled the copier and so on.


International School



Yesterday we visited a women’s cooperative who has a small shop here in Moshi. Among other things, we bought some signs made out of banana leafs that are suitable for giving to loved ones. We also managed to find some gifts for our relatives’ children, including The big five, which was sewn in African textiles and lions that were handmade in ebony wood.

Karibu tena! 

Life is changing…

Hi everyone!

This Friday I celebrated 2 weeks here in Ghana! I can’t believe how fast time passes here, it is crazy! It stresses me a bit, to be honest, but really trying to just keep calm and enjoy as much as I can.

So far I have spent a few more days with the first organizations I met with, conducted some more interviews etc. Otherwise, regarding the field study, I’ve been trying to get in contact with some of my contacts, and also making new connections and meeting new people that have been able to put me in contact with valuable persons that I will be able to meet up with! Connections really are everything when it comes to a country like this I have noticed, meeting someone who gets to talk to you in person and see you and hear about your project and can immediately think of friends or relatives that can help you!

The life in Accra is otherwise quite amazing, I’m getting comfy here, I have my house, my roomies, I know the roads, places to eat and where to buy the most amazing fresh fruits! Last week two of my roommates left though, so the house feels quite empty… You really become like a family living here, so we had some tearful goodbyes, but we will for sure meet again in the future!

Also, got very sick last week and after a few days I couldn’t stop thinking I had gotten malaria… So I headed to the hospital for some tests, but luckily it was just some infection that some antibiotics is currently taking care of.

Last Friday I was able to take part in something very amazing, scary, huge, life-changing and overwhelming. I was able to take part in a presentation in two different boys schools here in Accra, regarding the SDGs. A project that is called The World’s Largest Lesson. Where the aim is to educate children about The Sustainable Development Goals. Some of my contacts are from the organization AIESEC, and I will be joining this project related to the SDGs. This is a major advantage for me in my field study, my university study, and for me personally! It is connected exactly to my passions, my goals, and my studies. Back to the presentation, it was in front of hundreds of children (and some adults), and I had to use a microphone…! I have never been very comfortable speaking in front of a lot of people, always tried to avoid it. But I did it! Looking back, I’m not sure how I was able to but I did it! Even though my voice was shaking, my brain froze a few times and I forgot the most simple words in English… And the sweat, it is already SO HOT here, but nervosity makes me sweat, and I had to wear a grey t-shirt… You can imagine the rest haha! BUT I DID IT! It was overwhelming and huge, and life-changing for me because the second I started something fell into place inside of me. I felt that this is exactly where I should be, right here right now. In front of hundreds of children, speaking about their rights and how they are our future and can help make this world a better place. I have goosebumps writing this. I am so grateful for where I have gotten.

As if this wasn’t enough, I got accepted to my master’s program I applied for!

This post feels a bit all over the place now, but that is kinda how I feel now being here. So much is happening, I’m learning so much – about the world, but also about myself. I hope everyone else out there doing their MFS are able to enjoy this life-changing journey as much as me!