First training session with our Community Researchers
In what turned out to be one of the most successful days in the UK team’s recent visit to Durban, the project’s Community Researchers took part in their first formal training session with the research teams from the UK and South Africa. Dr Maria Christina Georgiadou and Dr Isis Nunez Ferrera led the session, also attended by the South Africa team, and Jeff Thomas, one our project collaborators from the uTshani Fund.
(Left and below) The sessions kicked off with a sharing and reflection exercise – participants shared experiences of participation in their communities, the successes and the challenges. This was an invaluable team building exercise.
Dr Isis Nunez Ferrera and Dr Maria Christina Georgiadou give the Community Researchers a formal introduction to the project, and their role within it.
Jeff Thomas was instrumental in recruiting six Community Researchers from each of the case study areas – Piesang River, Namibia Stop 8, and Havelock. The Community Researchers will play a vital role in the project, acting as grassroots co-investigators, and key agents for change in the communities. Both the UK and South Africa team were delighted with the enthusiasm, knowledge, and dedication of the Community Researchers. Their role is pivotal in coproducing knowledge and making the project's research relevant and accessible for local residents and stakeholders, thus allowing the project to deliver the impact on people's lives it hopes to.
Dr Isis Nunez Ferrera (above left) and Dr Maria Christina Geogiadou (above right) lead small group sessions with the Community Researchers
During the sessions, the teams discussed the project structure and objectives; the experiences of participatory activities – including previous challenges and successes – in these communities; action research methods that we will be using in the project and the expected skills that Community Researchers would like to develop further.
Jeff Thomas and Dr Maria Christina Georgiadou listen to perspectives from the Community Researchers.
After a productive day, the team take a moment for a group photo.
An important element of the Community Researchers’ involvement will be in recognising their efforts formally, and allowing them to use this experience when looking for employment in the future. To this end, the project will explore ways in which it can certify and/or record their work.