In March, young community researchers from Kenya, Russia, South Africa and Vietnam gathered in Amsterdam for a three day three-day training organised by Mainline. The purpose of the training was to prepare the community researchers on how to set up their Community Based Participatory Research. This research will analyse and identify the local needs of young people by looking at problems young people face. The researchers tackled questions such as what laws and regulations apply to young people in their respective countries; what hinders young people from accessing SRHR/HIV services; and how traditional cultures affect young people and how it may limit them from being themselves?

To get everybody loosened up, the group sang and danced to get the energy flowing. The researchers filled the room with energetic screams of ‘just do it!’ and ‘this is how we do it!’: we were off to a great start! After settling down, Nick Veldwijk (Mainline trainer) facilitated interactive sessions on interview techniques and how to facilitate focus group discussions that deal with sensitive topics. The theory on interviewing and facilitating Focus Group Discussions was immediately put into practice. 

The advantage of bringing people from different parts of the world together is the cross cultural exchange. Despite differences in local laws and regulations, the group of youngsters realized that there are plenty of similarities in the lives of young people regardless of their country of origin. The young researchers connected and had passionate discussions during the practice rounds. Practicing interview techniques on sensitive topics and asking sensitive questions stirred all kinds of reactions: from laughter to nodding heads of acknowledgement. It was great to see that the researchers felt safe and confident to share their personal stories and experiences.

What stood out the most during the 2,5 days was the immense level of respect people had towards each other. A shared feeling of understanding of each other’s needs and struggles despite their different nationalities. The researchers went home with newly acquired knowledge, practical tools and new friendships. The community based participatory research officially kicked off and the researchers are ready to start their research into the local context and needs of young people.  

Renee Groen
Programme officer Bridging the Gaps

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