Research Progress and Roadblocks

I came to Dadaab with a research plan, to identify NGO sponsored trainings outside of formal education or accredited programming aimed at empowering learners with particular emphasis on women. I realize now that all NGO training aims to empower learners. Focusing on women has, unfortunately, proved problematic. Most training aims for a gender balance, and there are few programs aimed specifically at women. I’ve managed to conduct one video ethnographic study so far, of a teacher training, but I couldn’t conduct all the follow up interviews because the trainers were visiting from a university and had to return.

In the video data analysis, iMovie is the bane of my existence. A software the requires constant updates or else it crashes all the time, is pretty much useless given my bandwidth these days. My computer is running hot and slow, tired. It may be hot here (though I’m assured by my colleagues that this is the winter). Where iMovie fails me though, the people I meet make up for it. The other day, after a 20 minute conversation at one organization, I was granted entree into a women’s empowerment training next week. Still waiting for confirmation but last minute seems to be the way of things.

One door opens and another closes. A different international NGO who I approached to work with has given me a resounding ‘mind your own business’. Perhaps it was my approach, too eager. I can come off as pretty intense when I’m talking about things I’m passionate about. Or perhaps “ancient grudge break to new mutiny” and this has nothing to do with me. Either way, it is a disappointment but no one is beholden to participate in research if they don’t want to (ahem, Facebook, ahem).

My work is progressing, slowly. Next week there are two trainings that I will attend. This week, more program evaluation work. Always program evaluation work. There’s so much data to go through, enter, analyze… This work load is feasible, but I’m afraid quality will suffer, as will my colleagues who have to help me get focus groups and interviews lined up while considering that no one wants me getting kidnapped. Also they have their own work to do. It’s a tricky spot to be in, in a tricky place to be.


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