In Togo, Senegal and Liberia, YCI International Citizen Service volunteers are currently conducting research into the impact ICS has had in the seven different communities we have been working with since 2014. In January, during their first few weeks on placement, our Volunteer Co-ordinator Hayley joined the volunteers in both Togo and Senegal to deliver the training which would enable them to carry out this research. Here she summarises her trip:
Focus group training in Senegal
The training gave volunteers the opportunity to learn about various methods of data collection, including interviewing, questionnaires, case study collection and focus groups. The volunteers also became familiar with approaches to analysing and reporting data and started to think about their various roles and responsibilities through interactive activities and tasks. It was important at this stage to get volunteers to consider in advance what barriers they may come across when undertaking their research. A key part of my role was to facilitate discussions around the tools and techniques volunteers could use to manage difficult situations, or situations where they were collecting possibly sensitive data.
Y Care International ICS volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and have very different skills and experiences. When delivering this training it was great to see the volunteers explore this, drawing on each other’s skills and knowledge to support each other with the training activities. For me, one highlight from the trip was seeing volunteers working together to run a mock focus group in Senegal entirely in French. This was a good opportunity for volunteers to learn about the realities of undertaking research in a cross-cultural context, encouraging them to effectively plan for and respond to possible challenges, but also giving the team a chance to appreciate its members’ amazing acting skills!
Justine, former ICS team leader
When I had finished delivering the training I was lucky enough to be able to visit past ICS development challenge projects in the Mlomp region of Ziguinchor, Senegal with a former ICS in-country team leader Justine. Justine has continued to play a role in supporting her community to establish a chicken farm, putting into practice those skills she had gained from the enterprise workshops delivered by our ICS volunteers. Talking with her and seeing how these projects had progressed really highlighted the impact ICS has had on local communities and why it is so important that volunteers are undertaking this research. Justine spoke passionately about the community development skills and self-confidence she had developed through being an ICS team leader and how she to hopes to develop her own enterprise in the future by putting these skills into practice.
As a team we have had regular updates from the volunteers on their challenges and successes so far and I am really looking forward to seeing their final impact assessment reports and hearing all about what they learnt. Having supported the volunteers since the assessment stage of their ICS journey, I am excited about supporting them on their return with their social action projects in the UK. This is a great opportunity for these volunteers to continue to build on the skills they have gained through their activities and research overseas.