As we start our eighth and final week in Kisumu, the SRT team is finishing up the last stages of our on-the-ground research, and preparing for our trip back to the US!
At this point in time, we are almost finished with our clinic observations. Despite several scheduling changes, we will complete our project with five to six observation sessions at each of the six clinics. Additionally, we have set in motion the plans for the Kisumu team to conduct focus group discussions (FGDs) at the intervention clinics after we leave. The purpose of the FGDs is to understand women’s opinions about our educational intervention, and how they feel about incorporating peer navigation services into the clinics. Unfortunately, we will not be here to witness the FGDs as we originally anticipated, but we’ve been working on setting everything up so that they will run smoothly in our absence. That includes getting participant recruitment up and running, going over our questions and probes with the team here, and even buying refreshments for the FGD participants. We plan to stay in contact with the team here so we can be involved as much as possible throughout the process.
Looking back on these past eight weeks, it seems like the time has flown by. We have learned so much during our stay that we can take with us into our future careers. Out of all that we’ve learned about global health research, I have three main takeaways:
#1 Be flexible
Our project runs concurrently with multiple other research projects the Kisumu team is working on. These other projects have their own constantly evolving needs for resources and personnel. This means that when we are dependent on shared resources between multiple studies, our ability to be flexible is crucial. For example, our main method of transportation to clinic sites is the study car, which is shared among all the ongoing projects. Some of the other researchers have to travel far for their projects, which means we don’t always have access to the car. To adjust we’ve arranged our own transportation, restructured our schedule every week to accommodate changes, and sometimes just accepted the inevitability of being stuck at a clinic site for a few extra hours. The need for flexibility goes beyond the work environment as well; there are many things to get adjusted to when living in a new country and a positive attitude and a willingness to go with the flow can make life so much easier
#2 Don’t be afraid to ask for help
It’s so easy to get discouraged when the research doesn’t go as planned. We’ve definitely had our fair share of setbacks with unanticipated CHV training, surprise holidays, and scheduling conflicts. When all of this is happening it’s so important to reach out to our research partners and mentors. We have had amazing people on the Kisumu team go out of their way to help us, and their assistance has helped us overcome many hurdles.
#3 Make time to have fun!
Among all the learning of the past eight weeks we have made sure to squeeze in time to see the sights and explore what Kisumu has to offer. Kisumu is a beautiful city with a thriving local culture. From trips to the Masai Market to get local handcrafts, to exploring the Kisumu museum to learn about Kisumu’s history and wildlife, we have gotten to experience so much of the city. So much of global health research involves immersion and sensitivity towards other cultures. And what better way to understand another culture than to experience it yourself! These last eight weeks have been an amazing opportunity for us to broaden our horizons by learning the culture of a new country.