Post by Leigh – Day 3 Conducting Qualitative Interviews

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The process of starting qualitative research was difficult at first as questioning people about what I would deem personal ‘reflections’ on their life seemed like a difficult task for the researcher and the interviewee. My personal reservations soon dissipated as I found the interviewees were open and responsive even though I was nervous and unskilled. The use of a translator was a daunting task but the skill and empathy of them put me at ease and may be a substantial part of the reason I have a new found respect for qualitative research.
Before this qualitative research experience I found myself drawn towards quantitative research due to the precision and scientific basis but this experience has shown me how qualitative research can give you a deeper understanding and a better perspective on the topic. With qualitative research you are able to understand each individual’s starting point and circumstances. The deeper understanding enables you to clearly state what has changed in each individual’s circumstances and what progress they have made instead of grouping them all together and starting them all on the same base and trying to measure progress.


Post by Theo – Day 3 Conducting Qualitative Interviews

On the journey to the villages I was nervous about doing the interviews – I didn’t feel doing an interview would play to my strengths and that I would flounder looking for a question to ask. These worries were alleviated when watching others do their interviews as the interviewees were friendly. It also struck me that if I were being interviewed in the same way, I feel I would be infinitely patient with the interviewer. As these interviews were going on, I was constantly thinking of different questions I wanted to ask but couldn’t, and different directions I wanted to take the interview away from the provided question sheet. I said to myself I would try to take my interview in these different directions rather than stick entirely to the script. However, when it came to my interview, I found it very difficult to fully understand what the interviewee was saying while also thinking of an original question that was not on the question sheet. As a result, I found that I struggled to go into any real depth into some of the more interesting revelations that were made. Being able to do this will most probably come with practice.
Another issue I found was that I wanted to expand on the information that the interviewee’s husband beat her, but going into too much detail about this wasn’t strictly relevant to the study – about the effectiveness of the income-generation scheme. I also felt that this was potentially too sensitive to go into, for the small potential gains that it would bring.
I was glad to finish the interview despite finding it interesting. The stress of trying to find a good question to ask had made me tense. The interviewee seemed happy with how it went and although immediately afterwards I had felt it had gone badly, thinking about it, I’m happy with it. It would be ridiculous to expect the first attempt to be perfect.


Post by Liv – Day 2 Yuvalok Visit

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We headed over to YuvaLok to meet the charity directors, teachers, staff and children. When we arrived we walked into the school courtyard where some of the children were seated in rows ready to greet us. Chairs were laid out for us and it was rather like being back at school when visitors came, except this time we were the visitors! The staff were introduced to us and we in turn introduced ourselves and told them all a little about ourselves; then it was play time! After playtime we all sat down in the courtyard again and the children were given the chance to ask us questions about life in the UK; this included questions about what we studied at University, what our culture was like, did we like India and could we please sing the National Anthem to them. I’m not 100% sure we did it justice but we gave it our best! It was then time for all the children to head home so we were taken upstairs for a presentation given by the directors to show how our contribution would help them to continue their work. It costs approximately 15,000 rupees a year for each child (£150). We then presented our cheque. It was a completely exhausting afternoon but most definitely worthwhile, I think the only thing any of us would have changed would have been to raise more money in the UK before we came out so that we could have made an even greater difference.

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Post by Hayley – Day 2 Yuvalok Visit

YuvoLok’s inspiring work began in 1993 as a non-governmental organisation hoping to empower young street/slum children. The organisation invests in the lives of underprivileged children in the city, providing them with an education regardless of their caste and religion. Each of these children are subject to infection, disease and malnutrition, unable to access any form of healthcare or education. The organisation’s investment in thousands of these boys and girls lives over the past 20 years, has not only led to an increased confidence in their future, but also a discovery of their value and potential.
With the help of donations, the organisation is able to provide tuition, two meals, stationary and uniforms, as well as more practical provisions such as healthcare and transport to and from the schools. Access to computer/science laboratories and a library, has led to an impressive and well-rounded breadth of knowledge. They aspire to be more than their parents and instead work towards being able to provide for their families and inspire others. This in turn will help to reduce levels of inequality and deprivation among India’s vast population. Girls in particular, have the opportunity to branch away from traditional employment as maids and cooks.
On a personal note, I believe that the work taking place at Yuvolok is inspiring. Having spoken and interacted with the children at the organisation, it is clear that they appreciate the opportunity to learn and move beyond traditional employment and life styles. Each child seemed excited to learn new things and develop their understanding of not only their own culture, but that of other countries as well.


Post by Adam – Day 2 Seminar

Our first appointment of the day was a seminar held by members of the Department of Mental Health Education at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences. To begin with, we discussed some of our initial impression of India and Bangalore, commenting on numerous things from the traffic to the visible inequalities, while discovering the importance of noting down the initial impressions of the area where the research will take place. Following on from this we had a presentation on power in the context of research and finally discussed and asked questions about the interviews we would be conducting and what we could expect.


Post by Emma – Day 1 Village Tour

The Belaku trust has grown upon learning from their mistakes and replacing youthful hubris with humility and pragmatism. They are not trying to improve the lives of everyone, but if they can build a successful model here, maybe others can reproduce the same results elsewhere. The director, Saras, revealed that although she thinks that there has been progress in improving maternal healthcare in India, the progress has been far too slow. She asked if I knew the saying ‘there are lies, damned lies and statistics’ and said that never has there been a place where this is as true as it is in India. Although officially the number of women receiving prenatal care has increased, qualitative studies have revealed that hardly any of these women had their blood pressure checked or received a urine test. Saras talked at length about the caste system and the difficulties that the trust has faced trying to work against the system and encourage equality. She wishes to expand the work than Belaku does by teaching the women basic literacy and math skills, right now all they can do is sign their names but Saras believes that some literacy skills will go even further towards improving these women’s lives. Introduced us to the midwife who at one time served ten villages and a total of 5,000 people. Expected to visit each village once a week and complete malaria checks on all the children she was stretched beyond belief by the government policy. A problem that the midwife informed us of was the limited availability of fully trained midwives as well as transport, as often they are expected to walk between the villages, despite the physical toll and the use of time.