beginning the interview process

Hola Amigxs!

Since I last updated I finally started to conduct interviews with women involved in the struggle for legalizing abortion in Argentina. So far I have conducted 6 interviews with different women, in different ages, education, and occupation. It’s been an exiting process but also quite nerve-wracking because of the fact that it is the first time I conduct interviews. It have also been questioning my position of doing field research and how the women I interview would react to my questions, these thoughts have also added to my nervosity. But all the women I have interviewed have been so kind, helpful and willing to answer all my questions, they have also found it very interesting that I am focusing on this struggle and in their situation in Argentina, and that I am doing this research.

Sometimes the language has been a bit of a struggle during the interviews especially when it comes to asking follow-up questions. Sometimes they speak so fast and passionately about their experiences or their struggle that it becomes a bit difficult to formulate the additional questions I would like to in order to make the interview as open and as less structured as possible. But I guess it’s also a matter of practices of conducting interviews.

During the easter holidays I felt a bit far from home, especially when seeing fotos on social media of friends and family gathering and celebrating. But I tried to keep myself bussy with studying and to meet some friends here in La Plata. During holidays the city always becomes a bit of a ghost town because a lot of people return to their home towns or leave the city for the country side. So it was quite relaxing walking and biking around in La Plata not being scared of getting hit by a car when crossing the street.

Spent a Friday evening in a park and strolled around a independent book fair

One Sunday while biking around in La Plata I passed a park where a group a people were dancing tango causally. I thought it looked very “argentinian” because the importance of tango in the culture.

What La Plata can look like on a lacy and empty Sunday afternoon

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!)

Second to last week in Nepal

Namaste, It is my second to last week in Nepal and I am trying to squeeze in as much as possible before heading back home. In my last blog post I forgot to mention that I attended the ANZAC Day memorial service organised by the Australian Ambassador at his residency @ the Australian Embassy on April 25. Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”. It was an interesting event to take part of in Nepal.

Me and staff from the Australian Embassy and Australia Awards Nepal at the ANZAC Day memorial
Me and staff from the Australian Embassy and Australia Awards Nepal at the ANZAC Day memorial

This week I have done some interviews as well as been touristing around a bit. On Saturday I attended the Le Sherpa farmers market which is where a lot of the expats go every Saturday morning. It is a nice place to grab a coffee and sit down on the lawn and chat to people. On Sunday I attended the Yellow House farmers market in Patan which was also really good. I ended up buying two shirts that are designed and made in Nepal.

Le Sherpa Farmers Market in Lazimpat
Le Sherpa Farmers Market in Lazimpat

I got to meet the next batch of Australia Awards Nepal Short Course on Inclusive Education in Practice Awardees heading off to Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. It was lovely to meet the scholars at their Pre-Departure Briefing held in Kathmandu just two days before they were off to Australia. My project in Nepal is in interviewing alumni from this course (2016 and 2018 participants), hence very interesting to  attend this event and learn more about the scholars selected for 2019.

Pre-Departure Briefing for 2019 Australia Awards Nepal short course in inclusive education in practice
Pre-Departure Briefing for 2019 Australia Awards Nepal short course in inclusive education in practice

I had an interview with Australia Awards Nepal alumni Mr Ganesh Kc and Ms Jamuna Subedi from Independent Living Centre for Persons with Disabilities, Kathmandu (CIL-Kathmandu). It was such an inspiring meeting! CIL-Kathmandu promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities through advocacy, peer support, and awareness raising of the concept of ‘Independent Living’ in Nepal. www.cil.org.np 

“The right to participate in every aspect of life” “The only special need that I have is to be loved and accepted just the way I am”

Me and staff from CIL-Kathmandu
Me and staff from CIL-Kathmandu

I also had a great meeting with Mr Lakpa Sherpa, Principal at the Laboratory School (Lab School), and how he works with advocating for inclusive education. The Lab school is the first public boarding school in Nepal (established 1956) and is a successful integrated school where visually impaired and sighted students share the same classroom. www.laboratoryschoolnepal.com

Me and Mr Lakpa Sherpa from the Lab School
Me and Mr Lakpa Sherpa from the Lab School

And I also had an interview with Mr KP Adhikari and team at the National Federation of the Deaf Nepal (NDFN). I learned so much about inclusive education and the development and challenges within deaf education. NDFN is the national umbrella organisation of the deaf community in Nepal working for policy intervention on such as deaf rights, sign language, telecommunication facilities, awareness raising and training. www.deafnepal.org.np “I can talk with my hands. Can you?”

Me and KP Adhikari and two interpreters at the NDFN
Me and KP Adhikari and two interpreters at the NDFN

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. www.nfdn.org.np

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. www.napnepal.org

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