Saturday, July 31, 2010
Shooting for the Goal - Heather
This past week has been a blur. Even as I look at my brainstormed list of things to touch upon in this blog, I am amazed by the number of things we did in these 7 days. The week started randomly at a local church where, although we may not all have seen the light, we enjoyed the singing and dancing that made up the majority of the 3-hour session. Later, we put on our hiking gear and trekked a small trail towards a beautiful waterfall that flows from the melting icecaps at the top of Mt. Kili. And because of this hike, I can now say that I’ve been to Tanzania, having explored a whole 4 x 4 section of it. The rest of the week has been a whirlwind of data collection, volleyball tournaments, community service, and data analysis. At the beginning of the week, we conducted our focus group discussions to talk about the impacts of the project we are evaluating. Acting as moderator of the discussion, I sat with six community leaders, 3 other students, and a translator in a circle formation in the woods (sticks and all) where meetings are often held. My job was to ask the assigned questions, and probe for information when necessary. Two hours later we were back at camp and I was preparing for my next assignment of interviewing a key informant of the project. I conducted about a 30-minute interview with a representative of the local Ministry of Agriculture, an intimidating experience, but one I did not regret volunteering for. The next few days were spent entering quantitative data and piecing together the qualitative information we had just collected. Finally, we were able to take a slight break from our work at camp and go back into the field to do volunteer work planting trees by a furrow. It is hoped that these trees will prevent soil erosion from contaminating the water that community depends so heavily on. Later that same day, we got schooled in football (soccer) by Kenyan students from a nearby primary school. It would’ve been more embarrassing if the school hadn’t sent out its A-team, consisting of 6’ something, 15-year old boys. I tried my best, but spent most of my time on the sidelines teaching the younger kids how to use a camera. Definitely a much safer position. Since then, we have really hit the ground running. We have one full week left, which means our report and final presentation to the community are right around the corner. We’ve been given a crash course in statistical analysis using a program called Epi Info. We are currently using this program to create what’s called dummy tables, which are essentially tables that describe our results. However, dummy tables are not for dummies (bad pun, I know). There are errors to fix, variables to categorize, and an overwhelming amount of information to work with. Our patience for each other will definitely be tested this week as we attempt to organize our data, finish our report, work on our other assignments, and find time to shower. Stress levels are currently high, but as I look out at the sun setting from behind my computer, I am calmed by the realization that I am in Africa, living my dream, and doing something amazing.