Complications!

Hello again!

Second week in Bali!
Since the last post we have moved and started to work with the actual essay. Our new accommodation is nice and quiet with good work spaces but actually we are moving again! We’ve met and befriended a couple who have been here for 6 months and they recommended a hostel to us which would be cheaper! So we’re gonna try it and see if it’s good, if not we’ll just move back to the place we’re at now!

So about our work… Last week there were some miscommunication by e-mail between us and one of the organisations we’re in contact with. We thought we worked it out but now we haven’t heard from them for a while. They are the ones who are going to help us with an interpreter so we really don’t want to lose them. So, no interviews this week either. Meanwhile we’ve been working on the rest of the essay and gathered more information and we feel good about our process!

Other than this, our week has consisted of scooters, beaches and good company. So not too shabby!

Talk to you next week!
Aron and Emma

Everyday on our way to the hostel we pass Ganesha!

We are in Uganda!

The view from
Our balcony

 

First week in Uganda is done. It was a somehow a rocky start for us. The hospital we were in contact with and thought we were gonna do our interviews at changed their minds so we had to start over. Our contact person took us to a hospital and we met the research officer there who gave us papers to fill in, asked us questions about our bachelor thesis and wanted her to give her our proposal. We left there a bit confused and asked our contact person about the proposal and she told us that it is our project plan. So that night we went home, filled in all the papers and changed some things in the project plan. We met the research officer some days later again at the hospital and gave her everything and at the 28th they going to do a ethical review of our project plan at the hospital. We are hopeful that after that we can start interviewing nurses!

Kampala from one of the hills

We are also trying to get to know our new town Kampala. And get used to all the traffic. Because it is so much traffic and it is always a jam, no matter what time it is. If you have an appointment you need to get an Uber at least 1,5 hour in advance even though the distance isn’t even that far. We have gone with motorcycle taxis a couple of times (here it’s called boda or boda boda), but they drive very fast and so far there have not been any helmets involved for the passengers…

The monkey wants the cookies

Happy monkeys

We went with our contact person and now also friend to the Zoo in Entebbe. It is not just a zoo, it is also a rescue and education center. The coolest animals was the wild monkey though that came to the zoo when it started to get cooler in the afternoon. They were so many and not at all afraid. We bought some cookies to have on the way home but on the way to the car a monkey with a baby saw them from far away and started to run towards Halima who held them! She started to scream and the monkey was persistent to get the cookies and Halima surrender fast! It was hilarious to watch.

Becase there are still time until we can start doing interviews we are going to Nairobi, Kenya. Then we are off for two nights and tree days in Masaai Mara and hopefully getting to see The Big Five!

Wictoria and Carl

Karibuni Tanga, Tanzania! (Welcome to Tanga, Tanzania!)

Mambo!  (Hello!)

We have now been in Tanzania for more than a week! The time runs so fast!

We arrived safely in Dar El Salaam on sunday morning, and took a local bus for a seven hours journey to Tanga. Apart from some misunderstanding about which bus station we where to be picked up at, which lead to two hours waiting… there was no problem at all! We are staying with the organisation Tanga international competence center – TICC. It is a Norwegian organisation that works on many local grassroot projects! They are supporting families so their kids can go to school, they work with schools, health centres, elderly homes and nutritional gardens and more. Mainly students from Norway, but also some from Denmark and us two from Sweden, stay here to do clinical training or to wright an essay as we are. The goal is to meet and learn from each other. TICC is really the best place to be for us! They are helping us with all practical stuff regarding our data collection! Wow 🙂 Also, we got swahili lessons! So now we can at least greet each other (mambo, habari gani..) say our name (mimi ni…) say thank you (asante) and some other good to know stuff! Now we just need to repeat, repeat, repeat…

Regarding our study, we have started with observations, to get an understanding about the health situation here. We have been to a health centre in Tanga, a sub-urban dispensary and a more rural dispensary. The last will be one of the places where we will do the interviews. It has been so interesting! The healthcare is very different here, especially regarding the environment, the equipment and the integrity. They also seem to have a culture where everyone takes care of each other, one’s health issues is the collectives health issue. Still a lot of things are the same, just a bit different due to their circumstances here.

We’ve also been to a local market, out on a boat tour and we also we have had some time to rest our heads in the sun.. So far we really love this place and we have learned so much! Now we are really looking forward to start the interviews and get to know this country more!

 

Kwaherini! (Good bye to you all!)

 

Ready for observation!

This is used to weigh the kids

Mirijam tries the work of a receptionist at one dispensary.

Labour room

Sisal plantation

The best swahili teacher!

Study book for swahili!

Mangos!

Boat tour!

 

My first week in northern Kenya

Welcome to Lodwar (see photos)! This is my new home, at least for the first two weeks (as I will be going back and forth to Lokichar), and in this post I will introduce to you my first week in this town.

I have now been at my study destination for exactly one week, and I have experienced both difficulties and progress. My first two days were fairly quiet and were used to try to get to know my surroundings and how to make my way around everything. I quickly noticed that everyone is very curious of me and walking around in central is not done discreetly. Everybody is starring (in friendly ways) and many come up just simply to say “Welcome!” and shake my hand. Those who do not come up still wave hello from a distance. So, during my first couple of days here I was taking in the whole picture of my new environment, locating myself, finding places to eat and finding my permanent boda boda/piki piki driver (motorcycle taxi) as it is easier to have one or two you can call when you need to go somewhere.

Although its rain season in Kenya, we experience very little of this and temperatures reach up to 40c every day in the sun, and approximately 33-35c in the shades. There are two hotels here where there is access to swimming pool, and one can pay a fee (500 ksh/43 sek) for a full day access to the pool, and this is where I spent my weekend :).

I had my first meeting with a girl I got in contact with through the project leader I am cooperating with. She works at an NGO here, and I am very pleased with how successful this meeting was. Other than this I have had a bit of a slow start but things are falling into place and I am getting more and more prepared to head out and commence the actual interviewing and field study!

In the next post I will write about my meeting with Friends of Lake Turkana that I have on Wednesday and our potential cooperation that I hope for!

Lots of love, Emma B

First week in Bali

Our first week in Bali is coming to an end and we’ve already experienced so much! We had decided to spend the first week to settle in and get used to our new home and sort out practical things such as getting sim-cards, figure out the transportation system and familiarising ourselves with our new surroundings and culture. Everything has been going fine so far expect for a few hick ups! When we first arrived at our apartment we found it perfect, we had our own room and a pool and the staff were very nice and helpful, although we soon discovered that it was located far away from the city centers. Meaning we would have take spend a lot of money on taxis quite often, and we soon realized that we had to relocate to a more central accommodation. So today we are moving to a new hostel with a lot of work spaces and good reviews, hopefully this will work out for the best!

As for the weather, the rainy season has begun but so far the weather has mostly been sunny and enjoyable, it has only been raining during the nights. We also had an earthquake! Although it was only a small one and we slept through it though some of our friends felt it and their toilets overflowed! Luckily that didn’t happen to us.

We haven’t met our contact persons yet but we have e-mailed with them and hopefully we will begin our interviews next week! They seem positive and excited to help us!

Warm hugs,
Aron and Emma

The sunset in Kuta

 

Mie Goreng, typical Indonesian dish form a local warung. Only for 15000 IDR! (10 SEK)

These canang sari can be found be found everywhere on Bali and is an offering to the hindu gods.

 

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

Surprises and endings in Gulu (for now)

For the past weeks, I have been finishing up my field study, recovered from malaria, visited Kampala, and enjoyed my last time in Gulu (my home away from home). Last Friday, I even went further North to Kitgum and visited the Memory and Peace Documentation Centre. It is the only one of its kind and founded by the Refugee Law Project. It is very interesting to visit as it contains important information on the previous armed conflicts in Uganda as well as a library. I want to thank, Jerry Oyet, for showing us around, explaining everything, and answering all our questions. Most impressive exhibition to me was the one showing a copy of the letter written by Joseph Kony himself. On our way back to Gulu, we stopped at Aruu Falls. A gigantic and beautiful waterfall with a rainbow. It is definitely worth the visit although you must be very careful about when and how you hike down to the bottom of the falls.

Kitgum Memory and Peace Documentation Centre

Letter written by Joseph Kony, the LRA commander in chief

View from the top of Aruu Falls from where we hiked to the bottom.

Aruu Falls, wild and beautiful.

  

I am very satisfied with the results of my 9 weeks in Gulu. I have successfully conducted 30 interviews of 30-90 minutes each with both former abductees and community leaders, professionals from different NGOs, and a district official. I am looking forward to writing the thesis and sharing it with all my friends here, at home, and abroad.

I have a lot of mixed feelings leaving Gulu and all the warm-hearted people, I have been so fortunate to meet here. I cannot give enough thanks to those who welcomed me to their homes, shared their personal stories, hopes, and challenges with me, and to my friends who have made it so hard for me to leave this beautiful country. Lastly, none of this would have been possible without the support and encouragement of my local partners, in particular, Hope and Peace for Humanity as well as People’s Voices for Peace and War Affected Networking and Betty Children Foundation. You inspire me and gives me hope that, together, we can work for a better tomorrow. If anyone wishes to support Hope and Peace for Humanity’s upcoming project which will empower 150 female victims of violence, the Global Giving Platform will boost any contributions made on Wednesday the 20th of June.

Yesterday, my friends from Hope and Peace for Humanity also surprised me with lunch, kind words, a gift and a maize roasting at night. It left me speechless. You are truly the BEST, and I will miss each and every one of you. Now, I am heading off to bounty beaches, drinks, and 2.5 weeks of holidays in Tanzania before going home to Denmark/Sweden.

Roasting of maize on my last night in Gulu

Hope and Peace for Humanity (HPH) family

The End (for now, at least)

My thesis material is collected, all interviews are finished, my backpack is almost full again and my room needs an awful lot of cleaning. It is my last day here in Guwahati before I take the train to Darjeeling and a short vacation before returning home to finish the thesis.

Though I knew the day would come and 10 weeks of MFS seemed like a reasonable time frame, I am still surprised by how fast the time actually passed. As I am packing down my stuff piece by piece I cannot help but thinking “what just happened?!” and I am honestly a bit sad to leave. It has mainly to do with all the amazing people I have met here but it also feels weird to leave all the organizations and power women that have been so helpful to me. I know I cannot change the world but I kind of have this “so what happens now?” feeling about leaving. The organizations will continue their work and I will go home, unable to do much for them from the distance. It is a horribly annoying feeling. The world is full of good causes and organizations working for human rights but seeing the actual work, challenges and victories of the Assamese women’s organizations makes me feel even more attached to exactly these people.

But I am leaving tomorrow and that’s just how it is. After all, I am also looking forward to see friends and family at home again soon. I had a bit of money left from the MFS scholarship so they will now become donations to all the organizations that have helped me writing my thesis. I might be repeating myself but the teams from NEN, PBET, WeDo, FST, NEthing, Yuva and the Jorhat Boat Clinic are probably among the coolest I have met and they are doing a really good job here in Assam. Moreover, this state is just a nice place to be (though the summer heat is getting too much for me now) so I  am pretty sure I will find my way back to visit someday!

See you soon, Assam. Moi tumak bhal pau!

Restlessness, royal ruins and reunions

I did not spend many days in Guwahati after coming back from my last trip before I was on the road again. In fact, I spent much of the second half of May taking sightseeing breaks from my writing and analysis work.

First I headed out for the Green Hub Festival at Tezpur University that screens documentaries about biodiversity in India and short movies made by Green Hub’s film students but also hosts a number of panel debates on environment as well as women’s rights. I attended a seminar on women’s security, watched some amazing movies on biodiversity and nature and spent the night in Okum Guesthouse outside Tezpur. North East Network, one of the organizations I’ve worked with here, runs the guesthouse, which is based in a tribal Mising village among bamboo houses, palm trees and paddy fields. Their veranda is probably the best thesis-writing spot I have yet encountered – writing and drinking tea with a view to woods and wild orchids made me incredibly mindful and productive at the same time.

As for many tribal groups of North East India, the Mising women have a long tradition of weaving. NEN also runs a project in the village with 13 women making handloomed products for the organization and thereby earning a little extra money for their households. I talked to some of them about their work and what it has changed for them and tested my own handlooming skills (or lack of the same) with supervision from the professionals.

Just call this product placement but if you get the chance to visit the Okum Guesthouse (which you should if you’re in India anyway), do take home some beautiful hand-made cushion covers, wall hangings or bags and support a good cause!

The heat has arrived in Assam and I’m suffering. Luckily, my landlord’s driver was kind to take me on a one-day escape to the neighboring hill state of Meghalaya. Meghalaya means something like “the Land of Clouds” and the place perfectly suits this name with its fresh green hills, wet but really enjoyable climate and huge cotton-like clouds rolling down the hill sides and turning everything into a misty wonderland or “Scotland of the East” as the tourist agencies say. Even though the clouds blocked the view to Cheerapunjee’s waterfalls and the Bangladesh border, I still enjoyed a day in the highlands with stunning landscapes and really good company. Binoy, my landlord’s driver is one of the most cheerful people I have met and long-distance road trips are just better when you’re travelling with a good friend.

My lovely neighbor Avishka also took me to Sivasagar, the old capital of the Ahom kings who ruled Assam for hundreds of years untill the British arrived. Sivasagar is a small town but with some very pretty ruins of the old castles and temples. It was a nice little tour and even nicer to meet Avishka’s family.

Sivasagar is only one hour from Jorhat so on my way back to Guwahati, I simply had to pass by the town to meet the people from Purva Bharati Educational Trust and the boat clinic again. I did some follow-up interviews with my participants in my field study but also just enjoyed meeting these inspiring people and their friends and families again! I also took a detour to the Majuli island to visit my “family” there again. If you have read my last post, you will understand why I enjoyed being back so much and why I was very sad to leave them all again knowing that I will probably not go back before some time (what is for sure though is that I can never visit India again without passing by the North East!).

My field study in Assam is coming towards the end and I only have few follow-ups and visits to complete before heading out for some more travelling in India and then home to Denmark/Sweden!