Joanna Thompson and Michelle Fox
Reflections on Rwanda, Africa.
Letter From the Field --
A year ago, I would have never imagined myself in the place I am today - sitting in the heart of East Africa, Rwanda. We are on the last leg of our trip, and reflecting upon the last few weeks, I have learned not only about women’s organizations and social network analysis, but also a lot about myself as an individual and as a budding anthropologist. It has been one of the most challenging and rewarding four weeks of my life, and gives me a new respect for anthropologists who spend extended periods of time abroad of their work.
We came to Kigali with National Science Foundation and University grants to work with members of women’s civil society organizations. My research partner Michelle and I prepared and practices our interviews long in advance, ready to work as soon as we landed. It was, of course, not as easy as we had hoped, but after a week of running around the city, we finally got to work. We interviewed 30 women in total, from organizations such as Association des Guides du Rwanda, Hagaruka, AVEGA-Agahoza, Duterimbere, and Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe. PFTH, the largest women’s organization in the Great Lakes Region, is an umbrella organization that manages many of the smaller organizations. PFTH acted as our “homebase” and connected us with our interpreters and all of the other organizations we connected with in the duration of our research.
The ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ was absolutely lovely -- the people and the places. We leave with many stories that we won’t forget, and there were many people that will leave a lasting impact on our lives.