June 16, 2011 – Yesterday was our first day of fieldwork: a focus group meeting with the girinka beneficiaries in Jarama sector. Jarama sector is one the farthest regions in the District of Ngoma (it is close to Burundi, maybe only ten to fifteen minutes away by car).
Initially, I chose two sectors for the focus group meeting – one close to Kigali (where market opportunities and influence may be higher) and the other farthest away from it. So Jarama sector was chosen, but getting there was another thing. Public transportation was not an option (well, technically you can take a mini-bus, then a bike, then a boat-ride, and finally walk up the hill). The other, more realistic and timely options were renting a car or motorcycle. We chose the latter to save research costs! We were a team of three focus group meeting facilitators: Emmanuel (moderator), Robert (note taker) and I (audio recorder). After an hour of bumpy and dusty road ride, we arrived at our destination. Despite the sore behinds and mouths full of red clay dust, we had a great meeting. We spent two and a half hours of engaging discussions (initially, we expected to finish the session in an hour and a half) and at the end, we shared Fanta drinks to conclude our meeting. We came back with many insights that we were unable to answer on our own such as the farmers’ definition of soil fertility and the main challenges of using cow manure.
On the personal note, I have to admit that I enjoyed the beautiful vista of Rwanda’s out-country. A sight of a foreigner on a motorcycle is not your everyday thing in this part of the country. Villagers would stop their farm work, and kids would scream out loud: “Umuzungu!!!” like they never saw a muzungu before (a foreigner or more literally a white person in Kinyarwanda).
Pictures – here are some images of Emmanuel and Robert facilitating the focus group meeting. We had ten beneficiaries from different villages that day. The photo with kids around me is when I went to thank the sector veterinarian, Hamid, for setting up the focus meeting for us. He was conducting training at the nearby primary schoolroom, and when kids saw me, they all came up to hear what was going on. (no kidding, the whole school came around us, and I couldn’t move a step!)