by Miriam Taegtmeyer, 14 October 2013
Coming to Nairobi feels good for me. For a start it was home for me once and for a second I always feel so welcomed by LVCT. The familiarity of people, smells, noises, traffic and the way people at LVCT laugh at my rubbish jokes just to humour me combine to make any trip here a journey I look forward to. Despite media concerns about safety after the horror of the recent terrorist attacks I felt secure, and Nairobi is going about it business.
The ease of slipping into chat with colleagues, some of whom I have known for years and see grow through many roles in the organisation makes a frantic week of work seem like a norm. We are all used to some crazy work patterns and this week is no different. Between early morning starts, late finishes, transcript coding, writing narratives, facilitation and deep discussions about the implications of findings of the REACHOUT context analysis we manage to marvel at how people’s kids have grown and slip in gossip on who is pregnant, who is working in which department, what shuffling has gone in Ministry. We speculate on the impact of the US government closures on CDC and PEPFAR and whether this will affect community programmes in Kenya.
The energy and vibrancy at LVCT is felt from the very top and permeates the organisation. Our workshop is full of laughter and hard work. We have a programme manager, two research officers and 7 research assistants in the workshop. We all fill the room with energy, laughter and hard work. Most of us are learning Nvivo software for the first time. Myself included. Many are learning coding, analysis and narrative writing for the first time and choose to come early and stay late to complete work for the next day. With some people making a daily commute of 3 hours each way through Nairobi’s congested streets this is truly an impressive feat. I thought the new roads were supposed to be slowly unclogging this perennial problem but no such luck for some.
We have been bonding over the data. As we analyse we talk, think through things back and forth, work in pairs, get inputs from the group and move on. The learning is through doing and every day we take time to reflect and have sessions where we evaluate and give feedback to each other’s work. I can categorically state that I have had my capacity built this week. Not just in Nvivo but also in qualitative research. Korrie through her formal teaching and informal support has allowed us all to grow and benefit from her years of experience in doing qualitative work with communities and she has learnt stuff about HIV testing programmes, the organisation of services and the workings of community health worker (CHW) programmes too. Thanks to the amazing (and long suffering) Ginge, who provided a 24 hour Nvivo help line support system by Skype and email, we all found Nvivo user-friendly and quickly picked up basic skills including coding, merging files and querying nodes. We also did classifications and ran some further queries, but with less confidence on these still. Most importantly my capacity to understand the context for community health workers and community health extension workers has been built by the team and by the community and CHW voices I hear through them.
This project is funded by the European Union.