Back from immersion

Every year we close the office and the entire Twaweza team goes off on immersion. Immersions can enable staff–accustomed to working in the capital cities, and in offices with strategies, plans, budgets, indicators and communications- to come face to face with the realities their activities are supposed to address and the people whose lives are supposed to change. It is not a research exercise; it is a “deep dive” into one particular part of the country. The purpose is not to administer questionnaires or conduct focus groups, but to challenge our assumptions, and get a better sense of our context, particularly about how and which citizens make things happen.

Our approach involves staff from Twaweza and a partner organization spending three nights and three days with a previously identified host family, sleeping in their homes, sharing meals and life as it is lived, having long conversations often late into the evening. Staff members participate in community living unencumbered by normal professional roles and hierarchies, with no pretense to profer solutions or help 'bring development'. This type of participation offers a chance to scrutinize our personal and professional assumptions about development and the lives of ordinary citizens: a chance to listen to people’s perspectives and observe the mechanisms people employ to thrive and survive. In our experience so far, families respond with great generosity and curiosity, as interested in our varied lives as we are in theirs. Our internal note with further details is attached below. Photos and reports will be shared soon.

And somehow, we hope, that the immersion will complement our other monitoring and evaluation activities to help us better think through, adapt and evaluate our work.


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