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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11 Responses to Research for Real

  1. Rob says:

    The local IRB is very supportive of your early explorations into human behavior (before the advent of IRBs) and your current appreciation for their need, even in international work. 🙂

    So how many kids filled out forms today?

    • lindsay says:

      Thank you IRB rep. I appreciate the support. And yes, we do recognize the need for such standards and evaluation of protocol, all over the world. Takes a little more time and explanation to get the community leaders on board, but it’s well worth making sure that we do protect everyone’s rights.

      We now have around 100 questionnaires! Woo hoo!

  2. mam says:


    • lindsay says:

      Thanks, Mom! IRB is the acronym for Institutional Review Board. It’s a board comprised of researchers/professors who review the protocol for studies to ensure that it complies with the university’s standards of research (especially related to human subjects). I think that most university’s have an IRB.

      Basically, they are the people who either endorse a study or not on the university’s behalf; I had to submit all my research plans to them so they could make sure that we treat human subjects with respect– empowering them to know their rights to opt out of the study, getting their consent, getting parental consent for minors, etc.

  3. Jessic says:

    I LOVE the pics of you guys out there…All three of you look to be so happy and thriving. Perfect. And way to go on using the word “hitherto” in this post. That is just one reason, among many others, why I like you so much.:)

    • lindsay says:

      I’m so glad that you love the pictures. It is such a special time; I’m glad we’ll have these pictures to remember it well. And thanks for the props on “hitherto.”

  4. jason says:

    You know what would be interesting? Seeing if the correlations between View of / Belief in God and Esteem hold up in non-religious schools as well. Because your Junior High was a Christian school. and you found those results. I wonder if the correlation would be as strong in a non-religious school, where the expectations to believe and the consequences for non-belief wouldn’t be as strong.

    I think you’d find some differences.

  5. lindsay says:

    Yeah, I think you’re right; there would be some differences. Also, I only conducted that study within just my 8th grade class, so it was not a representative sample of the whole school or of people that age.

    I was looking at what their impression of God was (angry, powerful, and impersonal vs. loving & personal), so I imagine that would change a lot across Christian, Quaker, Catholic, public, charter, and other types of schools.

  6. jason says:

    And I love the pictures of Senya there, they just crack me up for some unexplainable reason.

  7. jason says:

    By the way, Linds, do you miss your dog? (I forget that dog’s name.)

    GASP oh no he didn’t.

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