Research for Real

Today was a full day of work here, and it felt great to get so much done! Collin did a really nice job at articulating some details of our work day at

There was a very nice rainstorm this morning. It is extremely unusual for a rainstorm like this to happen at this time of year. We had already arrived at the Pamoja center by the time the storm hit, so it didn’t alter our plans. Sayidi, a key person at Pamoja center, was really happy for the rain (he, among many other jobs, manages the crops at the center).

Unfortunately, however, the heavy rain prevented the children from being able to eat lunch because the thatched roof over the kitchen is in such disrepair that the fire wouldn’t stay lit long enough to cook anything. A very generous family from our church donated some money to go toward valuable causes. We decided that fixing a roof so that children can eat the one real meal a day that they eat is a valuable cause. And this will cost $25.00 US.

I love doing this research project! Going through the questionnaires with the pupils was so much fun for me. (Side note: Terry explained something that had hitherto been a mystery to me. You use the word “pupils” here if you are referring to primary school-aged kids and “students” if you are referring to secondary school-aged kids.) I have always enjoyed studying humans. For fun in junior high, I designed a questionnaire to inquire about people’s beliefs about God and their self-esteem. I wanted to see if there was a correlation between the two. I handed it out in all the home-rooms and collected the results (all were anonymous, FYI local IRB representative).

The findings were fascinating. And though I didn’t know how to analyze my data at that young age, I did note that many of the participants that indicated they had a negative impression of God also indicated that they had a low self-esteem as measured by how much they liked themselves and whether they would switch lives with someone else if given the opportunity (using likert scales and open-ended questions).

I remember noticing these correlations and really mulling over my findings but then not really knowing where to go from there.

But now here we are. This data collected from this trip is laying the foundation for a bigger goal of designing and implementing a sustainable health club that would focus on HIV/AIDS and sex education. The goals of the health club program would be to empower adolescents to make healthy choices for their lives, to encourage healthy social support within the group, and to raise awareness about important social and health issues. We are using the data collected from this pilot study that we are doing to inform the design of the health club.

If I get a scholarship to design and implement the program, then we would move here and focus on getting it off the ground next year. We would work in conjunction with Terry and Paul, and involve the head teachers and community members as well. And this program has the potential to improve the overall quality of life for many people.

I am thankful that Collin and I are realizing these dreams that have been in our heart for so long. I am even happier that doing so seems to be healthy–even optimal–for Senya. Seeing her happy and thriving brings so much joy into my life. This is how I hoped it would be. Being able to say those words with full sincerity is a true gift.

research partner

Then we ended our day out by going to Hollywood for dinner.


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