I will again be travelling to Malawi in June/July to engage in participatory action research building activities with people in a region called Chilanga. I am leading discussions on health initiatives and it is our hope that this will lead to evidence-based outputs. Two students from the TCD School of Nursing and Midwifery will accompany me (one children/general nursing and one intellectual disability nursing) and we will be joined by Canadian students from primary education and international development. My colleague, Prof. Christopher Stonebanks (http://www.ubishops.ca/academic-programs/gse/faculty.html), is co-director of this project with me and leads the education component. Last year, two intellectual disability nursing students also travelled from TCD and set the seed for family support for people with disabilities. Their published record of this was recently in Learning Disability Practice.
This year has seen significant building and provision of locations for health and education initiatives to take place. These developments have emerged from a long process of dialogue and collaborative engagement. This is a long term project which traverses all areas of health and education. I am eager that, as community wellbeing issues become clarified and prioritised by the people themselves, others from our colleges and beyond will join in this work. This will see the need for responses around maternal, infant, child, adolescent, adult, older person wellbeing as well as areas such as disability and chronic illness. This is the beginning of a PAR community health/wellness assessment which will draw on nursing data once community have named their priorities.
The overall project has three components:
1. Research. This has an overarching PAR structure but individual components may explore and gather evidence using other methodologies. The research cluster, of which I am co-director, is located in Bishops University in Quebec, but it is my hope that a research network will develop between Canadian, European and Malawian collaborators.
2. Knowledge Transfer. As it stands, there are a number of domains of knowledge transfer. Students travel to Malawi, not as volunteer tourists, but as individuals who seek to engage with other people, acknowledging and attempting to park issues of power. Collaborative learning takes place between students and Malawian collaborators. We are investigating possibilities of innovative approaches to developing educational possibilities too for Malawians which will lead to accredited outcomes.
3. Resource and Agency. This is the philantrophic aspect of the work. We bring resource to the work but our Malawian collaborators identify what resource they can bring and together we work to develop the outputs that they have stated are required, grounded in research, evidence-based knowledge and produced from knowledge transfer activities. This aspect of the work is being registered as a charitable agency in Canada.
Students and academics all fund themselves and anything that is raised elsewhere goes directly into the project work. Evidence of work underway and nearing completion can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152798360502736.1073741834.515362735&type=1&l=75a184e416
If you wish to assist with this work in any way please do not hesitate to contact me or visit the following link: http://www.gofundme.com/l7kga8
Kind regards and thanks for reading this post.