Вибори Президента України – Ukrainian Presidential Elections

My second week in Ukraine was very successful and progressive. I eventually met my contact person at the I. I. Mechnikov Odessa National University. We discussed the purpose of my study and my contact person expressed her readiness and willingness to help with possible practical issues in the field. The fact that the I. I. Mechnikov Odessa National University and Malmö University are partner universities made me even more comfortable. Nevertheless, I did not like the remnants of Soviet bureaucratic procedures such as unnecessary long waiting times for solving very simple things. Moreover, the  existing hierarchy with varying power relations that one has to deal with is another shortcoming of the post-Soviet educational system.

I. I. Mechnikov Odessa National University

After the efforts of my gatekeeper in the field, I was introduced to the key informant within the Right Sector. I also met the head of  the Right Sector and described my project in detail. Thanks to these contacts, I will hopefully meet and interview some volunteers who will soon depart to join the military squads in Eastern Ukraine. Some of these volunteers have already been at the frontline, and some others are recent recruits. It is very exciting to interview these fighters and to get insight about why they join the non-state paramilitary batallions and squads instead of the regular Ukrainian army. These interviews are planned to be conducted earliest next week since the whole country is getting ready for the presidential elections.

The Ukrainian elections will take place tomorrow, March 31. Although there are plenty of candidates in this presidential race, people are skeptical about these elections.  Most Ukrainians are convinced that their country is still far away from honest, just and accountable elections. Some are indifferent and don’t want to waste time on something they can’t influence. This indifference is explained by the influential role of high ranking oligarchs in the country who usually have the final word.  Recently, I had a conversation with a taxi driver who told me a real life story about his experience of Ukrainian elections. This middle aged man went to one of the municipal electoral boards to confirm his participation in the upcoming elections. However, his name was not found in the voting list, whereas the electoral comission found his dead father who was registered as a voter. The man just laughed and said nothing when I asked him whether this incident was an accident, a technical error or a deliberate strategy!?

The poster of the current president Petro Poroshenko

Regardless the distrust towards their politicians, considerable number of voters support Yulia Tymoshenko who can become the first ever woman president in the history of the post-Soviet Ukraine. Tymoshenko’s campaigners told me that Ukraine needs a new hand, a new breath, a new start, and finally a mistress who will rule the country differently from her masculine predecessors.

Yulia Timoshenko’s electoral tent

I really wish Ukrainian people  successful elections and I hope that these elections will be held without any violence!

Focus Group Interviews

My week in Lokichar was highly eventful and went a lot better and much quicker than I thought. I was introduced to my contact person there through Friends of Lake Turkana who came to see me as I arrived to plan our week and the interviews.

The plan was to interview 3 local tribes affected in different ways of the extractives, as well as other key people and one of the managers of the oil company operation in the area. We managed to hold focus group discussions/interviews with the tribes and the information collected has created a good foundation for my work. We also visited a couple of sites holding hazardous waste and collected information regarding the impact of this on the environment and living standards of the nearby tribes.

I was invited to and participated in an information meeting for CSO’s by the oil company, however the interview I was going to have with one of the managers kept getting cancelled and postponed and it later came to my knowledge that the person in question had deliberately been avoiding me. Through some further contacts made during my stay in Lokichar this was later resolved after I had left and the person in question have now confirmed with me that he will agree to having a meeting which will take place after the new year.

I have had to reschedule a lot and re-plan my visit due to Christmas Holidays. After the 12th of December (Jamhuri Day, the day Kenya celebrate becoming a republic) most people go on leave return after the new year. However, before this I had to go down to Nairobi to extend my visa and fly back up to attend a 2 day conference which I will write about in my nest post.



Lucia and finished interviews


So I have finally completed all my interviews. I had aimed for 10 but with some difficulties of getting students to agree for interviews I ended up with 8. I am starting to stress a little about finishing it all in time and working hard analysing my material and writing. (So hard I forget to do my updates here haha).


Me, my translator Priya and two of the students from MAVA


Today is Lucia and I’mm both struck with a cold, making my brain work all slow, and homesickness. Since I have been away from home over Christmas a few times before I came prepared. Other times I have been able to go to IKEA for my homesickness treatment, but India only have one store in the country hahah.  So, this time, to save some time trying to search for ingredients I brought dry yeast and “pärlsocker”. I am planning to do some cinnamonbuns and saffronbuns (lussebullar). Hopefully it turns out okey. The house where I stay doesn’t have a proper oven though. Which is not a common thing to have in India. They usually make do with just a gas stove.  Wish me luck!

One great thing (among many) about doing my thesis here in India is the marvelous option of ordering food through an app. It is cheap and I can pretty much chose from whatever restaurang in the area. This saves me great time. Like instead of cocking I can 100% focus on writing…. or watch youtube videos…. or sit for 40 mins deciding what I want to order and then wait another 40 mins for delivery… you all know how it goes. And did I mention dessert.

Anyways! It is for sure time to pick up some speed to finish this in time.
Christmas is around the corner and so is deadline!!

One more week has passed

And a week goes so fast in Kampala, especially if you are sick, as I (Wictoria) have been. Now we are done with almost half of the interviews. Our plan is to do the rest of the interviews next week, but we dont know if this is possible yet. It’s not always so easy to find nurses to interview at the hospital because they have a lot to do. But the interviews are very interesting so all the struggle is worth it.


Besides, the interviews we also had the time to visit a handicraft market in Kampala. It was nice, but it’s the same things as everywhere else in East Africa. I love the crafts, but if you seen one shop – you’ve seen it all. We also had some fresh passion fruit juice at a café. That is to die for here. The best thing you can drink in Uganda!

I had to visit another hospital on Thursday, so now I been a patient as well. My stomach haven’t been so nice to me so I needed to visit a doctor. I got some antibiotics and worm medicine. The doctor said that here in Uganda everyone should take worm medication every 6 month because you get worms in the food you eat even though you are careful. So both me and Carl bought the medication and took like the cats we are. I feel a little bit better now when the antibiotics are over, but now entire fine. So, I have to evaluate tomorrow or Tuesday if I have to go back to the hospital if it’s not getting any better. Well, life outside of Sweden has it’s downsides aswell…


The plan for next week is just work and no fun. Maybe visit a tailor and make some new clothes, but our friend Halima is trying to find out if her friend can find time for us. This is the holiday season so eveyone makes new clothes so all the taylors are so busy!
Until next time!


Wictoria and Carl

Train traveling, interviews and transcribeboredom

Time is flying by! It is easy to forget to update! A lot has been going on.. I had my birthday and went out of town for some celebrations. I have managed to complete five interviews all of a sudden. I am also getting more and more comfortable going on the local trains even if the train as such is not a one of comfort. If you are unlucky with the timing in the mornings and evenings when all of Mumbai also want to go on the trains.. yeah.. well, then you do your best to even manage to get onboard. Put your bag in the front, tackle the door from the side, try to get hold of the doorhandle and squeez your way up. And don’t be afraid to use them elbows your mother gave you cos you need them. At least I am a little taller compared to the majority which is an advantage. This week however I didn’t even make it further in the train than just to stand by the door. And here in India the door does not close.. Exciting to say the least… I wanted to take a picture but then it would have been for the price of losing my phone. Anyways, I try to avoid peakhours as much as possible. It is just not worth the bruises and the sweating and the stares I get from looking like the lost tourist that I am. However, I feel pretty proud about managing this good haha!


Pictures from my trip to Gorai, outside of Mumbai, for my birthday


So as I said.. I have now conducted five interviews and have five left to go. It has been a little difficult to get hold of students and still trying to get the remaining interviews confirmed. I have transcribed two of them and it takes sooo much time. 50 min becomes 11 pages of text and about 4-5 hours of work.  The other three interviews have been in hindi where I have had the help of an interpreter. So waiting for her to give me a more detailed translation for the interviews before I can transcribe them aswell. But part from this tedious transcribing all this is fun. To meet people and learn new things. I am so thankfull to be able to do all this!

Until next time!

Take care,


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

African Time….

This past week has been very busy and productive thanks to my local contact. It is just the second week of my field study, but I have already managed to conduct several interviews with both community leaders, professionals working in psycho-social care, and state officials. Last week one of the interviewees included a bishop from the district who is seen as a hero around here. He is one of the religious leaders that have taken a very active role in promoting reconciliation and aiding the reintegration process. I have even interviewed three formerly abducted persons about their experiences of return. While I am quite happy with the results, some challenges remain. First, African time is both a blessing and a challenge. I love not scheduling my whole day which makes me feel less stressed than usual. At the same time, calling interviewees at the time of our meeting to find that they cannot make it or are several hours late is not my favorite way to spend my time. Secondly, the day I was interviewing former abductees, my interpreter got sick (he is feeling better now!). Thus, I had to make use of another guy from one of our partner’s office. It was my first time doing interviews with the use of an interpreter and I am not sure whether I am fully satisfied with the translation. I, at least, felt like some details might be missing. The solution is that my interpreter will go through the recordings and transcription this week.

In the evenings, I had dinner with the founders of Gulu War Affected Training Center and Backup Uganda. Both were a very pleasant experience that must be repeated soon. On Saturday, I went out with my roomies and some friends to the restaurant O’ café for the Open Mic Night. We had Rolex (a wrap with eggs), some drinks, and enjoyed the dances, music, and spoken word performance. It is a biweekly event that is also used as a venue for raising funds to cover the medical bills of some local beneficiaries.

Now, I am looking much forward to tomorrow’s Labor Day celebrations and to visit my friend from the preparation course in Hӓrnӧsand, Matilda, who is doing her field study in Jinja. I am keeping my fingers crossed for good weather, so we can go river rafting and cruise the Nile.

Traditional huts and preparation of sim sim and millet (among others)
Delicious Ethiopian food at Abyssinia (highly recommendable!)
Laundry day in Uganda
Open Mic Night at O’ Café


“I can perform just as well as a boy can”

Quotes from the interviews

Student: ” I feel confident to run for president. I know I am able to. And could be Tanzania’s first female president. However, the Tanzanian society does not allow girls to perform tasks that are seen as ‘a man’s job’. Like being a president. Some people think the country is too big for a woman to be running it. [SMILES] BUT I know that girl’s, can do any job a man can. Even better.”

Staff X: ” I do not think international actors are imposing on us when we are given sponsorship… If they give us conditions  ‘A, B & C’ in order to get funding for our project, and the conditions are not harmful to us, the organisation or its goals, I do not see a problem. The opposite. It is extremely good! Sometimes it is healthy to listen to the advice of an outsider. Maybe they have something to contribute and see things differently than us.”

Staff Y: “Concepts such as gender equity or gender mainstreaming are not so common to hear in Tanzanian secondary education. Luckily some of our students have had that exporsure throught their parents. Others have not. Most of us Tanzanians come to really understand these terms when we study at university level. That is a shame. If I could ask the current president to change one thing, in order for there to be more equality in Tanzania it would be just this. He should make gender studies mandatory from primary education. That way, kids will learn at a young age that there should be equal distribution of chances, opportunities and resources for both sexes. And only then can we teach our children that gender stereotypes is just something society has made up. But also, we must not forget about men from poorer backgrounds. Somehow we have to make sure women get their voices heard but that these men are also taken into account and are not left behind. I think that is what GENDER equality is about.”

All of the above are #Melscopyrights hehe. Through interviews, one focus group session and participant observation, I, in a structured and formal setting, or just over some tea; asked students and staff members what they thought of the school. The organisation that established the school (my focus) JOHA Trust, and the involvement of foreign actors in this particular educational organisation. Most of them were very happy and liked the school. They had suggestions on things that could be done in order to continue JOHA Trust’s objectives of supporting girl’s education. Some that worked at the school felt like the school was “losing its touch”; as the percentage of students that are funded by JOHA Trust scholarships to study at the school has decreased, for multiple reasons.

The quotes are little extracts from 20-40mins long individual interviews. As I mentioned above, I had ONE focus group session which is a type of group interview where a facilitator (me) introduces a topic and allows the participants to freely discuss it.  I chose girls that are all on scholarship as it relates to the JOHA Trust and their objectives. At first, the 5 girls that were selected for the discussion, were a bit shy in answering the questions I had for them related to the topic of gender (in) equalities in Tanzania and their own personal experiences if they had any. But, after about 5mins they loosened up and we had a nice 30mins discussion. At times they were so eager to answer they almost interrupted each other… It was my first time conducting such a session but I think it went quite well and the students were glad to share their stories.

Participant observation is a type of research technique in which one becomes part of the daily lives of the subjects of the study. In my case, this was the whole point of staying at the school for one entire week. I became a part of their daily life. This is how the girl that asked me to come speak to her class could access me. I was there, present, either by sitting with random students and talking about ordinary stuff. Or by making the conscious decision of attending their lessons and see how a normal school week looks like, to the students of the Barbro school.

Today I am pulling an all-nighter because I have a assignment to hand in a few days from now. And of course, I want to make sure I finish it of on time. Just one last thing, on Friday I am finally (!!!) meeting up with the programme officer at the TGNP- Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (my 2nd organisation of focus). I am going to get some juicy information about the organisation haha. And I have been told there is a library at their offices with similar studies as mine. I am so excited to get some Tanzanian literature in my paper too 😀 So yeah that’s about it. I’ll update on Sunday probably or Monday on how this week went.

Kwa heri! (good bye in Kiswahili)

Week.2 @the Barbroschool

Alrighty, Let’s see how this goes :p Hi everyone! I’m really sleepy right now so I hope I don’t forget to mention all of the cool things I’ve done this week hehe.

As I mentioned in the last post, this week was all about being at the boarding school; observing, interviewing and conducting a focus group session. My stay there was beyond lovely. First of all, just scroll down to my previous post, I took a few pictures of the school and its environment. It’s so beautiful! The trees are green and the flowers all very pinkish. I loved it. There were monkeys on campus. LIVE MONKEYS. Kind of freaked me out a little especially during the night hours when I could hear them outside my window. I think that’s the only issue I had, otherwise I can’t complain. I got my own room in a certain part of the school and there was also a space for drinking tea outside of the room and a table where I could sit and study so I was very comfortable. Generally, the students, teachers and other staff at the school were all sooo warm and welcoming. I felt like I came to a place I’ve always known. It was kind of sad leaving the place after almost an entire week 🙁

Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the students, and that’s cus I want to avoid issues with parents and such. A cool thing though, I’m attending the form 6 graduation 25th of March, and parents will be there. So, if I’m allowed I’ll take some pics of the students if I find them because I’ve been told the place will be packed! Which is wow. Cus’ the school area if im not wrong is 50 acres, which is a loot of land! :O

I’ll share more detailed about the interviews, observation and focus group session tomorrow, I have some interesting thoughts that were shared with me; and disussions I would like to share here 🙂 .

Let me update y’all a liittle bit more about the rest of the week. So I spent 5 days at the school. Everyday was really good. The students were very interested in my project. One evening a young girl (the classes I didn’t go to) grabbed me and asked ” I don’t get it. So you don’t want to ask us about gender issues????!” my response “of course I do. It’s just that I chose to go to certain classes because you are way to many students in this school”. The girl “hmmm… OK, this is what we’ll do. After 1 hour, we willl be done studying can you then come to that classrom *POINTS* and ask my classmates and I about what we think of gender inequality in Tanzania”. Obviously I couldn’t say no. After one hour, as promised, I went to their classroom and had an unplanned focus session sort of with a bunch of younger students. We spoke of inequalities in Tanzania, in Africa, what it means and what it doesn’t mean. And how they’ve experienced it in their own lives. After a while more students came and soon I was surrounded by almost 30 students and I shared with them my thoughts on different issues and they told me their opinions. As I said, I’ll share some of those thoughts tomorrow more detailed…

The last day at the school ended with having some BBQ pork and fried bananas (local dish) with some of the teachers from the school. There discussions of my paper continued. Many, particularly the ones I never got a chance to speak to during the week had a bunch questions and the good thing is.. due to *TADAAAM* Dar es salaam traffic, we had a lot of time to discuss all those topics. The place we were eating at wasn’t so far from the road and we could see the traffic jam from where we were sitting.

Wow. This is getting veeery long. But, I hope you get a sense of how my days are here, or have been. One last thing. This weekend I did something ‘fun’ as I said I would. I went to visit some relatives and ate reaally nice mangos (sidenote haha). Then a friend and I went on an unplanned visit to another city (not so far from Dar) and spent all afternoon there. We walked around, discovering the place, a total of almost 2 miles. Not so sure how I feel about that. Jokes. It was a nice loooong never ending walk in the heat haha.

That’s my week basically, leave a comment if you’ve been here Nella N Roza 😉 this post’s for u haha (my sisters)

Final Update! I think :)


You may notice that my updates are not as frequent as those of other students and there is an explanation to that.


Where I live there is no internet. If i go by bike 10-15 minutes to one of the restaurants by the beach there may be internet, but bring your pacience and be ready to change your plans of the day. I knew this before coming here to do my study and I was prepared for it…yet to make a thesis internet seems a bit crucial in order to find all the info, articles and everything.

Another alternative is to go by bus into the closest town, León. Door to door the trip takes about an hour and that is not a problem. But when planning and doing an interview study the plans changes quikely. The partiipants don´t show up and you scheduele for the next day, so OK I don´t go to town…folloing day they cancel again and it is to late to go to town and so on…

But as I have written before, it is all worth it! I just hope that Malmö University understand why I haven´t updated so frequently as they have wanted..sorry Malmö University!

So my study is coming to an end…all the interviews are done, still waiting for some emails from some organisations but in total the field study is done. Now it is “only” the writing part that is missing. I decided when I got the MFS scholarship that I would hand in my thesis in August instead of in May, since I had no idea how the study would go down here. The minimum stay is 8 weeks and that is pretty fair if everything goes as planned, i not it is nice to have 1-2 weeks extra like I have had. I also don´t know if we are supposed to write the thesis completely during this time aswell, that might be. But I have not had the time to finish mine so I am happy that I have until August to finish it.

In total if you have the energy and interst do a minor field study, apply! Do it! You learn so much from it! Of course it depends on what you want ot learn and do, but either way you will come out of it with an experience that the majority of your classmates does not have.

I don´t think this will be my last update, since I want to share some of my findings with you as well. So hold tight they will come!

Take Care!//Sandra