Transcript from Focus Group Discussion
November 21, 2019
10:35 AM – 11:50 AM
Location: Social Hall in Kibera
Participants: 7 women who reside in Kibera and have regularly participated in one Nairobi-based organization’s research projects; 3 discussion facilitators (women)
Discussion conducted entirely in Kiswahili with occasional English translation by one of the facilitators for another facilitator who did not understand Kiswahili. Transcript was translated from Kiswahili into English by transcriber. Unless stated explicitly otherwise, content was originally spoken in Kiswahili.
Total discussion time: 1hr 30 mins
Interviewer 2: [there’s a lot of noise in the background from kids playing outside] we can start from here. Tell us about yourself and if you’ve ever participated in any other research, with [Research Org Anonymized] and any other organization. I think we can start with you (laughs)
Respondent: hello guys (they all reply: hello) my name is Francine [pseudonym] [there’s a lot of noise in the background]. I have participated in the research that was called computer accessor…that was through texting. They would ask about your name, age but you don’t really know the person asking. the smart sensing research.
Interviewer 2: Thank you
Respondent: I am Laura [pseudonym] (inaudible as the noise in the background is too loud, and she’s speaking in a low tone). I have ever participated in smart sensing.
Interviewer: thank you
Respondent: my name is Akinyi [pseudonym] I have participated in many research with [Research Org Anonymized] mostly (is interrupted by the interviewer).
Interviewer 2: which ones have you participated in?
Respondent: like Pesa link, smart sensing, I have been engaged many times
Interviewer 2: like how many times?
Respondent: almost 8 times
Interviewer 2: when did you start?
Respondent: when they started registering people. From 2017 when the year was coming to an end
Interviewer 2: okay
Respondent: my name is Jonelle [pseudonym]. I have participated in the research about medicine (Swahili: utafiti ya dawa, mate), also with Samsung on how one can use data.
Interviewer 2: Okay, thank you
Respondent: greetings to you all (all reply: hello) my name is Ellie [pseudonym], I have participated in various studies one of them being with the CDC research, about the Flu vaccine; the second one was about the environment; the third was with [Research Org Anonymized]- smart sensing of different kinds.
Interviewer 2: okay. Thank you
Respondent: my name is Bernadette [pseudonym], I have also participated in smart sensing
Interviewer 2: it’s like everyone done the smart sensing (laughs). Is there anyone who hasn’t been involved in smart sensing? (Only one person identifies as never been involved with smart sensing within the group)
Respondent: but it had a lot of challenges. Because my phone would sometimes hang and then go off. Like my first phone, hang and then went off for like two weeks. I was offline for two weeks and then received a call from [Research Org Anonymized], to whom I explained that my phone always hangs and I had gotten another phone, to which they sent the app to my phone. I used the app for about four weeks, and when I had another two weeks left, my phone started having issues again.
Interviewer 2: is it because it’s heavy?
Respondent: (they all start talking at the same time) yes it is. When it starts hanging, I am forced to switch off the phone (the interviewer laughs because they all have something to say. One interviewer repeats that the issues with the smart sensing app is that its heavy and so made their phones to hang) [00:05:00] when uploading is when the hanging starts.
Interviewer 2: you still have the app?
Respondent: (they all reply at the same time) yes.
Interviewer 2: why do you still have it?
Respondent: it ended, I think.
Respondent: (asks one of the other respondents) it ends this week, right?
Interviewer 2: did they send a message?
Respondent: (they are all talking at the same time) yes. They said it ends this week (the respondents talk among themselves saying that it ends this week) (one of the interviewers says in English to the other, smart sensing is an app on the phone but it seems to be a project coming to an end)
Respondent: they sent a message saying that it’s come to an end
Interviewer 1: or maybe the research is ending at different times for different people (interviewers agree)
Respondent: mine is not yet over
Interviewer 2: (one interviewer says to the other- that there are some who are still going on and others who have completed because they maybe started at different times) okay, thank you. We will start by understanding what is research? And how you understand it
Interviewer 1: (repeats the question) how do you understand research? What is it? There is no wrong or right answer. We just want to know how you’ve experienced research
Respondent: my understanding of research is for example when we were being taught about data, it’s like knowing how to use bundles. Like how sometimes they deplete quickly and sometimes not so much. Just like smart sensing, it was teaching us on how to use bundles (there’s a knock on the door, the person gets in and greets everyone and then sits down with the rest)
Interviewer 2: we had already started
Respondent: no problem (pulls a seat closer to the interviewer)
Interviewer 1: what’s your name?
Respondent: Harriet [pseudonym]
Interviewer 2: my name is Angela. We have already done the paperwork, introductions, maybe we can give you the consent form, but don’t feel pressured. We are talking about research and what has been your experience with it (this is just to summarize quickly, laughs). The only risk here is that whatever is discussed here could reach someone else out there besides us, also we have a recorder for recording this discussion for reference purposes later on and also to capture all the information well. We need your consent to know if you are okay and you agree with what I have said. Is that okay with you?
Respondent: it’s okay.
Interviewer 1: you will sign this form and in case of anything later on, we have our contacts here for you to reach us by for assistance. Are you okay? May we continue?
Interviewer 1: we were talking about research and you mentioned bundles.
Respondent: yes. There is also another one on cancer (there’s a lot of noise in the room)
Interviewer 2: (asks the respondent to be a bit more audible)
Respondent: we are told to check on our lifestyles. Like what foods to eat to avoid getting cancer. Each person has that virus that causes cancer, so we all must be very careful with the things we eat.
Interviewer 2: thank you. Anybody else?
Respondent: on my side, things to do with research, I will talk about [Research Org Anonymized] and smart sensing, for example with me, having a phone like this one, I only knew that it was for making and receiving calls. I did not know that you can use it to search the internet or make uploads. So I would say [Research Org Anonymized] has enabled me to know how to use my phone more (laughs), how to use the internet (laughs), or even to load bundles so as to make uploads [00:10:00]. All of which I had no idea about. I only knew about calls on the phone. If you are a mother/ woman there are many things you don’t know about the phone (they all laugh). For example when I would tell my son to upload whatsapp on my phone he would mock and ask me what I want to do with the app, to which I said that I also want to communicate via whatsapp the same way he does. And he would refuse, telling me to leave whatsapp alone and stick to calls (they laugh again). Sometimes I see that you can reply to a conversation at the same time with someone else; you can also post things to the wall; so I would say it has improved my knowledge. For example, there was an outbreak of a flu sometime back, at least now I can go to my phone to get that information instead of asking another person.
Interviewer 1: okay
Another Interviewer: (quickly translates briefly in English for the other interviewer – it’s more about the internet. Like for her, she didn’t really know what to do with her phone until [Research Org Anonymized]’s project getting on the internet, and she started now suing whatsapp, google for symptoms when she had a flu, so she was actually learning how to use the phone)
Interviewer 1: yes…
Respondent: (speaks in a low tone and also there’s a lot of noise in the background) we learnt a lot of things in most of the research like the one with [Research Org Anonymized]. There was also another one called Pesa link, which educated me on the costs of transactions and where the deductions are less as compared to others. Another one is on smart sensing like she had mentioned, before that I did not have WhatsApp, but through that I learnt about it and joined and now I have learned many things about the phone
Interviewer 1: okay
Respondent: what I know about research is from [Research Org Anonymized], for example when you have money or want to share money with someone else, it depends on what level they are in. If for example they are older than you, you should give them a higher amount. And if they are younger, you can decide whether to give them a small amount, none at all, or a higher amount. It will depend. For an elderly person, they are obviously older than you, so if you have 200shs, you could decide to give them 170 shs and remain with 30shs; and if it’s a young boy, you could decide to give them 100shs and remain with 100shs or 20shs and remain with 180shs. So I would say it helped me know about sharing. Like if a person is older than you, you are supposed to give them more money and if younger, you can decide whether to give them money and what amount. It could be of a higher amount or lesser.
Interviewer 2: the next question. What kind of things have you been promised in research? For example if you participate in a research, you are told that you will get 1, 2, 3…have you ever been promised such things?
Respondent: I would say that sometimes they promise that you will get some money just to make you feel like you have done something.
Interviewer 2: how do you feel about the money you receive? Do you feel it’s too little or?
Respondent: I am okay
Interviewer 2: you feel happy?
Respondent: but sometimes it’s about the questions you are asked and it depends if you have answered the questions, which ones you’ve not answered, and it’s like they weigh. If you’ve answered many questions, the more the money. And if you’ve not…it’s like that [00:15:01]. They are satisfied with the ones you’ve answered.
Respondent: also, when you participate and the answers provided are not correct, you will not leave empty handed. You will receive something small, as well as some fare because some people come from far and others had to close their business in order participate, so you know you will at least get something small from participating in the research (they all agree)
Interviewer 1: is there any research you participated in and did not receive anything?
Respondent: yes (they all start to talk at the same time) like I had mentioned, sometimes it depends on the number of questions you’ve managed to answer. The more you answer, you will receive something small. For example, the one for CDC, if even if you participate in research with them, you don’t receive anything. But at least they cater to you in times of illness. If you fall sick and go to them you will receive free treatment. But there’s no incentive when you participate in any of their research. Also, the people who work with the environment, when you participate in their research you receive soap at the end (they all laugh)
Interviewer 2: soap?
Respondent: yes (laughs) I received one bar of soap.
Interviewer 2: okay. And what do you think of the soap?
Respondent: I will use it to wash clothes. They have even helped me there in terms of not having to spend on soap.
Respondent: also, it’s not just the free gifts, you also get to learn from those research questions which also help you in the long term.
Interviewer 2: okay (translates briefly in English- they feel indebted for the gifts they receive from research organizations. There’s an incentive that they get. So she’s talking about an organization that gives bar soap, and she mentioned that you are to be grateful since you are learning something from it. You don’t just look at the gift you receive, but also what you have learnt from them. Question: do they feel like they are supposed to be grateful? Yes, because they learn. She mentioned there’s an organization that deals with health. She said that if you take part in their research, they won’t give you gifts but will treat you for free in case you fall sick.)
Respondent: another thing, the environment people ask you questions after they have taught you a bit. Questions like, as the community members, what kind of problems are you facing and how can we help? For example on sanitation, we tell them that as residents of Kibera, our major problem is lack of toilets and water. Like in my area where I was in Soko, there was no toilet. But they brought us toilets and water too. So now we use the modern toilets, the ones that retain water (a respondent whispers flush toilets). We also have water tanks closer to us. Sometimes when there was no water, we would spend almost 20shs, but now it is 3shs, but now that some don’t consider the one shilling coin as a currency, you will pay 5shs for two jeri cans.
Interviewer 1: (repeats what has been said in English- she’s talking about an organization that deals with environmental issues, and they contribute to the research and then the organization helps the community and not an individual, in terms of bringing water closer to them as well as toilets, sanitation
Respondent: you see, if even if they don’t give us anything, they’ve at least helped us [00:20:01] (they all talk at the same time)
Respondent: they teach us
Respondent: it’s also like the one for Dreams for women, where they are called upon and taught on how to deal raise and deal with their children, the females. How to talk to them; how not to shout at them; the way to bring up that girl so that she doesn’t end up having a bad life. So when we go, we go for the teachings and advice. We don’t look the gifts/ incentive we will receive. We just want to learn. Also, we get a lot of information on business. It is from there that we also are taught on saving, table banking, how to improve your business and all that. They could take like an hour, an hour and a half, but since you are willing to learn, you will stay until the end.
Interviewer 2: are there projects that you don’t seen the outputs or benefits? Like you didn’t get any incentives, or didn’t learn anything?
Respondent: there are some where you just get some education and then go back home without getting anything.
Interviewer 2: and do you feel as if you’ve benefited from that?
Respondent: (agrees strongly) yes! At least I get to leave there with some knowledge
Respondent: those lessons are good because they ask questions. There are some who just listen but end up not having understood anything.
Respondent: (some respondents talk over each other) for example like the one for dream, it was very helpful.
Respondent: some information is good and helpful. If there was a time you were afraid of talking about something, by now the fear is gone. Right now I am able to talk to my daughter about anything, freely. Unlike in the past, where even talking about those uncouth words was a NO for me. But now I can talk freely with her and openly so that she can know which is good and which is bad.
Respondent: as I was saying, the one for dream, we did not receive anything, but left there with some knowledge and good advice. You are taught how to live with your son or daughter based on the environment we are living in now. Out here there are challenges. Those people of Dream are good. So now when they leave the house, I know they have the information needed to protect themselves. For example, there are bad people out there who could try to rape her, but I know she knows how to protect herself from such situations. Also, if she sees something like that has happened, she knows not to keep quiet but to tell me, her parent. And as the parent, once you’ve been told, don’t just rush to report to the police. Take her to the hospital for treatment within those hours, and once treated the doctor will give you a form with which you can now take to the police.
Interviewer 2: (In English with a few Swahili words) How do they learn in the research? Do they organize the Barazas themselves or how? Because I am curious, most of the time, they are being asked maswali (questions). How do they want to learn from the research? Is it from barazas where they come and share, or where is the learning?
Interviewer 2: (translates into Swahili.) so when you go to these sessions where you are taught, do you share with others or what do you do?
Respondent: sometimes we are told after we’ve been taught from here, next time you could also bring a friend or neighbor. Also now that you been taught, you too can [00:25:01] also teach a neighbor or the neighbor’s kid
Interviewer 2: and after receiving the lessons, do you ask questions?
Respondent: (all agree) yes
Interviewer 1: oohh….so they ask questions immediately at the session?
Interviewer 1: then and there where are they held?
Respondent: it takes place anywhere, even a place like here where you are called to gather
Interviewer 1: and do they ask general questions?
Respondent: (all in agreement) yes, general questions. Open questions.
Interviewer 2: (translates in English- they are saying that they get called to meetings but it’s not like a baraza. Also they’ve said that one of the things is that they are learning, and so I was asking, how is it that they learn since I am the one with the many questions. What is it that the catch from those interactions? And they say that sometimes its general questions, and also they get to ask questions themselves.)
Interviewer 3: (In English) I think that Leah wanted to say something.
Respondent: yes. I wanted to answer what she had asked about whether we share the knowledge we get from the lessons. Like these ones on agriculture, although they do not gift you, at least you get information and then share it with others, for instance on how to plant, what fertilizer to use, how to weed, among other things. You share with those who were not there with you.
Interviewer 1: so for you research is not just about the questions asked but also what you get to learn from it.
Respondent: (all agree) yes.
Interviewer 1: how do you want the findings of the research to be shared with you? Is it through barazas, meetings?
Respondent: through seminars
Interviewer 1: where?
Respondent: a place like this
Respondent: you can’t fail to get a meeting place in Kibera
Interviewer 1: okay
Respondent: I can also say that right now most girls in primary school are getting pregnant. So if these people can come to schools through the seminars and talk to these young girls, and know what is affecting them and what is leading them to get pregnant early… Like some of them are here and it’s because they lack pads, so they get easily manipulated just because they lack pads. So if they could have a seminar with them to know what is affecting them, it would be good.
Interviewer 1: okay
Respondent: I would say that there are some parents who do not know how to talk to their children. A child could come to you wanting to talk or wanting money for the pads, but the parent just dismisses them saying there is no money or where should she get the money from. So she opts to look elsewhere, which is usually out there and no wonder some of these things happen to these children and that’s why the children fall into temptation.
Respondent: the parents should talk to their children well. Calmly.
Respondent: And also the mode of dressing and lifestyle of children. That is why the Dream people teach is to be close to our children. Be their friend. Be close to them, especially your daughter. But also your son. You could be living with your child without knowing that they are thieves [00:30:00]. You could be living with your child who has a gun in the house without you knowing. But with creating a friendship with your child, you will know their behaviors. This will bring you closer to them. Punishing/ caning your child does not mean that you don’t talk to them. Just talk to them and they will understand you. If you are always harsh with your child, especially your daughter, she could be having an issue but fails to tell you. She would rather tell the neighbor because if she tells you, you will be harsh on her. When you notice a problem with your child, just talk to them gently. It is better to even use sweet words to get them to open up to you. Also you could suggest taking a trip to Uhuru park just to get them closer and to talk, which they will.
Interviewer 1: okay
Respondent: for example my daughter came and told me that she went to the toilet and realized there was blood and she thought that she had been cut or something. She had first gone to her father who then sent her to me saying that I know what medicine to give her. He said, talk to your daughter. She has something to tell you. So she told me. I asked her where she was bleeding from, and she showed me, saying that the blood has been flowing for a while without stopping. And so I advised her that it’s called menstrual blood and now she is becoming a woman, and she should now be wary of boys. I told her not to let any boy trick her into doing anything because it could lead to 1, 2, 3…I explained that there were diseases; pregnancy; and I told her the dangers. I also told her how to use the pads since she didn’t know. I also told her it’s a normal occurrence and that she should not be scared. There are some who get so scared that they fall sick and even fail to go to school. But I t old her not to fear anything. That as long as you have a pad, it’s okay. And after a few hours, remove it and wear another, but don’t fear. I told her to be wary of boys, and not to strike any friendships with them. Even the male teachers at school, she should stay away from them. And that she should not allow any teacher to touch here anywhere, and if they do, to come tell me immediately. So now she knows. Even out there, I tell her not to take anything from anyone, things like fries, no. she should be satisfied with what I give her. I also tell her to stay away from bad company. I tell her things every day, and when you do they will become close with you. She sometimes tells me things she’s seen/ heard from her friends at school or out there, and I tell her of the dangers of those things. And I ask if she was also involved, and if she was, I warn her but in a gentle manner. Not harshly. These days, teachers rape students, even fathers rape their own daughters. So I tell her to be also wary of her father and to stay away from him especially if I’ve stepped out. Now she knows. So whenever she has an issue, she will tell me. But if I was harsh and dismissive with her, she would never tell me anything. For example there was a story about a teacher in Toi, I don’t know if you heard about it. He would give the boys treats without anyone knowing and was very friendly with everybody and if you saw him you would say he was very innocent. He would target boys aged 8 to 9 years. Call them to the office and abuse them [00:35:00] and then give them money. It had happened to six boys until one day one of them said what had been happening. One of the kids was walking funny and had been asked what was happening but would refuse to talk, especially to the father, but the mother decided to get close to him to get him to talk to which he did finally. He told them what had been happening and that whenever he would come home with chips or cake, it was from the money the teacher would give them. So sometimes we should be asking our children where they’ve gotten some things from especially if they come home with food stuff. The parents went to the headmaster of the school to report. He denied at first but after hearing from other students ranging from class 6, 7, 8, he agreed. They were called upon and they all talked and when they were taken to Nairobi Women’s it was found to be true. He was caught and taken to prison. This is something that took a while before the children spoke up. So we should aim to get close to our children, and not just the daughters but also our sons.
Interviewer 1: thank you for that. Is there a time you refused to participate in any research? It could be because of lack of time or another reason. Is there anyone?
Respondent: yes. There was a time, when computers had just come in, when I would refuse especially if it was something to with computers and since I didn’t know anything about them (they all laugh).
Respondent: There was a time I refused to participate in the pesa link study, where we were told to get equitel lines. They wanted one to have the equitel line and also open an account. I felt it was hard because when you compared what you were receiving in the account to the amount of money you would use to open that account, and for fare, it was hard. Because you would end up using all that money you’ve received. At first I was told to go back home; then I was called back again and told that they needed the equitel line, and so I decided not to continue. I was there from 1 pm to evening. And when I left, I refused to go back.
Interviewer 3: (asks for an English translation)
Interviewer 2: (In English- she’s said the costs incurred in opening an account, which was a requirement in order to participate in that project. She felt it was expensive, and that process was long compared to the earnings received. And so she decided not to participate. She opted out)
Respondent: I was saying that we would fear to participate sometimes because of the use of computers [00:40:00] (they all agree and laugh)
Interviewer 2: (In English- also, computer literacy)
Interviewer 3: (In English to be translated: are there other issues like childcare, transport, that prevent you from participating?)
Interviewer 1: are there other issues like childcare, transport, that prevent you from participating?
Respondent: yes, sometimes we lack fare to go there and have to walk there which takes time. Also the timing of research whereby they need you at 8 o’clock yet you have to take the children to school by 7:30am. So you drop them first and by the time you get to the office, it’s late and are told to wait your turn. So sometimes you just opt to not participate.
Interviewer 1: okay
Respondent: especially during school days it’s a challenge for most people, even me. Because the time I have been told does not work for me since it could run to lunch time and yet I have to take lunch to my children.
Interviewer 1: okay. Anything else?
Respondent: sometimes the nature of the research could make you decide not to participate. The say the research needs you for a week and yet you are busiest during that week, so you just opt out.
Interviewer 1: so for you it was lack of time. You could not get a whole week to participate?
Respondent: no. the one for the week, they said they needed to take the blood pressures of the respondents. And the reason for this is because the research requires one to sit for long hours, so they need to know the pressure before they can start in the research, and so I decided not to because of my pressure.
Interviewer 2: (In English- she’s talking about the exclusion criteria. Some projects have different criteria. So she knows she won’t be able to do it because of the criteria)
Interviewer 3: (In English to be translated) it sounds like you’ve learnt a lot about exclusion criteria. What other things do you think are important for a researcher to have when they do a research study? You mentioned exclusion criteria, but what skills do you think a researcher has that makes them a researcher? Like people who’ve done research, what skills do you think that they have?
Interviewer 1: now that you’ve all participated in research, what other things do you think are important for a researcher to have? Or what skills do you think the researcher has? (They are silent)
Interviewer 3: (In English) or maybe they don’t have but think it’s important to have?
Interviewer 1: or what do you think a researcher should have in terms of knowledge?
Respondent: something they don’t know but want to know more about.
Respondent: [others agree] Maybe from us.
Interviewer 2: curiosity. There’s something they know and they want to know more.
Interviewer 1: the researcher.
Interviewer 3: (In English to be translated) Do you feel like you have the same curiosity?
Interviewer 2: Do you all also fell you have that same curiosity? Wanting to know more?
Respondent: (they all agree) [00:45:01] for example like me, I thought I knew everything about phones and yet I didn’t. There were things in there that I didn’t know. But now I know. So when I heard about smart sensing and having to upload things, I was a bit hesitant because I didn’t know (laughs) but I came to experience.
Interviewer 2: Okay. Someone else? What skills do you think a researcher has? Or what knowledge do you think they should have?
Respondent: (in English) I feel like the researcher want to know more about something, let’s say (in Swahili) about the population of people in a certain area, like how many people are in Kibera. (in English) Also maybe wants to know more about the things affecting the community. Or he/she is a student from a certain university and (in Swahili) wants to learn more.
Interviewer 1: (In English) Is there a topic you would want to be done research on? Something that hasn’t been done?
Interviewer 2: What do you want to know more about? Which kind of research do you think should be done and you should participate in?
Respondent: like on issues to do with violence. What contributes to it?
Respondent: what would make it stop/ bring it to an end?
Interviewer 2: domestic violence?
Respondent: on my side, I would like them to research on the foods we are eating that are contributing to most health issues. There are those they say have poison, (other respondents contribute to the list) GMO, maize is bad…etc. I would like to know what the causes are. Because it’s come to a point where you even fear buying anything from the shop, not knowing what will harm you and what will not. I would like a research done on that.
Interviewer 1: okay
Respondent: also people should be sensitized to go for check up every other time. Most people only think of going for check-ups when they are sick. They should go every time and not wait for only when you are very sick. No wonder we get some illnesses we do not understand.
Interviewer 3: (In English to be translated: is there anything you think has been studied too much?)
Interviewer 1: is there a research that you think has been done too much? (They laugh)
Respondent: yes, the one about population
Interviewer 1: what exactly about population?
Respondent: the research about the number of people and also things to do with girls. That has happened so many times.
Respondent: also family planning among the young girls has been done a lot of times. They do not understand the meaning of it.
Interviewer 1: does this research happen to young girls?
Respondent: (all agree)
Interviewer 2: (In English- they say things to do with family planning as well as on population). Anything else?
Respondents: (they are all silent)
Interviewer 2: (In English: So will you participate in other research in the future?)
Interviewer 1: will you participate in any other research in the future, not necessarily with [Research Org Anonymized], or what will you do?
Respondent: (they all talk at the same time and laugh) we will participate
Respondent: we will so that we learn more
Respondent: we will continue because if you had some other behaviors before, they will get you to change (they all agree)
Respondent: you know as women we always have many things going on.
Interviewer: (In English to be translated) how would you describe [Research Org Anonymized] and [Research Org Anonymized] research to your neighbors?
Interviewer 1: Some of you here have been to [Research Org Anonymized] and some have not, how would you describe [Research Org Anonymized] to your friends or neighbors? [00:50:01]…They may have heard of them but don’t know what it is.
Respondent: I will tell them of the education we receive from them
Interviewer 1: and how will you start that conversation? (They all laugh)
Respondent: I will first start with asking if they have a smart phone and then tell them the good things about [Research Org Anonymized] because they will ask me where I have come from. And I will tell them I am from [Research Org Anonymized]. Them they will ask what is [Research Org Anonymized]…
Interviewer 1: and what will you tell them?
Respondent: I will tell them it’s an organization like an NGO, where they educate women on things about computers, smart sensing, on business, on health and taking blood pressure among other things, but it’s not a must they take your pressure. Only when you give consent. And when they hear that, they will ask how they too can participate.
Interviewer 1: we have men who also participate
Respondent: yes they do. Sometimes they will ask where you usually go to and you tell them that you go to [Research Org Anonymized] and then you explain it to them.
Interviewer 1: and you, what would you tell them?
Respondent: If someone asks, I will tell them that it is a company that carries out research on certain things in the community like the diseases affecting people and I will also tell them that the benefits of participating in the research is that you will receive some incentive for the transport you have used.
Interviewer: what about you?
Respondent: I would tell them that [Research Org Anonymized] is a company that carries out research and there’s a lot that goes on there. We use computers to learn sometimes. I had never used a computer before (laughs) but at least now I know a thing or two. Also that one is compensated their fare back after participating in a research. Also there are benefits of participating in projects based on the correct answers you give. The more the correct answers, the more money you stand to get that could be more than somebody else’s. And that it’s a very good company.
Interviewer 2: (In English to be translated) do you know of other people who have participated in research with [Research Org Anonymized]?
Respondent: (they all agree) yes
Interviewer 1: is there anyone who doesn’t know someone?
Respondent: me most of the time when I get called, the people I find there are always different people.
Interviewer 1: you find new faces? (Laughs)
Respondent: (they all talk at the same time) sometimes we meet with different people who are new; other times they could be neighbors.
Respondent: like for me, about Jiko okoa, I didn’t know anything. They found me at my place of work, at the salon. And I was very lucky that day since I bought it at 1500shs.
Interviewer 2: (In English to be translated: how do they know?)
Interviewer 1: how did you know of the people who participate in the research?
Respondent: we met during the recruitment period and we registered together back when it was at Coptic
Respondent: there are those who came to us at our homes
Interviewer 1: to recruit?
Interviewer 1: so you got recruited when you saw that your neighbor had been recruited as well.
Interviewer 1: do you know of people who got recruited but don’t participate? Do you know how they can participate?
Respondent: (they all talk at the same time) the first time, it was strange and we were wondering who these people were and what were they recruiting for.
Respondent: as for me I was told there were some people who had come to recruit, and so I followed them to also get recruited. (They all start talking at the same time over each other and laughing)
Respondent: I was recruited at home
Respondent: I was recruited on the road
Interviewer 1: okay [00:55:01]
Respondent: I was recruited while I was leaving the District Comissioner’s office
Interviewer 3: (In English to be translated: afterwards [the research] do they talk about…)
Interviewer 1: do you discuss on the experience of research after coming from a study?
Respondent: (all agree) yes
Respondent: when I was in the research on bundles, I had not yet been on whatsapp. When I left there, I came home to discuss with others since I didn’t know anything.
Interviewer: (In English: it sounds like they really enjoy the research. But have they ever heard other people say bad things about them, or what do other people say about research in general, not just with [Research Org Anonymized]. How do Kibera residents feel about research?)
Interviewer 2: how do other people out there take to research? Be it with [Research Org Anonymized] or any other organization. What do they say about research?
Respondent: they say it’s very beneficial
Respondent: but others feel like it was a waste of time having spent do much time there and yet they left without getting anything. So even if they are called again, they refuse.
Respondent: many of those with whom we registered together refuse to participate saying that it’s a waste of time.
Interviewer 1: okay. (In English: Some get disappointed if they spend too much time and yet earn too little)
Respondent: like there was one--actually a friend--who was called and started asking the person if they will add to the money or is it still 200shs (they all laugh) so she asked me if I was still going and I said yes because I will get to learn something. But she refused to participate because she felt 200shs was too little.
Respondent: there are those who refuse because of the amount but I tell them it’s better that 200shs than getting nothing just sitting here.
Respondent: they also faced challenges during recruitment. Some would claim they were thieves, some would be chased away. Sometimes we would get educated on business by Shofco, and how to calculate your income and losses, among other things. And I would tell her to go with me, and she would refuse saying that it’s a waste of time and yet one only receives a bottle of soda. And when I ask her if she knows how to manage her business or how to track her stock or her spending, she says she doesn’t know. And so she loses on a chance to learn something new and yet the business is not growing at all. Every time I tell her to accompany me she refuses.
Interviewer 1: (Translates into English: some people feel like it’s a waste of time, like just to go to learn, just to get a soda)
Respondent: I have been doing business for a while [1:00:00] but didn’t know much, but after those lessons, I now know how to track my money, even the little I use for airtime, also the profit I make.
Interviewer 2: (In English to be translated): Are there people who want something that is more… kama kazi? Are they imagining research is a job?
Interviewer 1: Do you see research is a job?
Respondent: (all agree) yes
Respondent: we were suggesting that it should be done every day instead of every once in a while (they all laugh)
Respondent: it will help you get something and to keep some of us busy (they all laugh)
Respondent: you know sometimes sitting at home doing nothing is hard, and it leads to increased stress. Like for me I am a student. From here, I go to school and from there, I go to open my business of selling slippers in the evening. So this day is busy, unlike if I was just at home waiting to go to my class after spending some time in traffic. But sometimes you find you are idle.
Respondent: (in English) to me I can say it is important because (in Swahili) especially to those without jobs and some of us are stressed but when they come and interact (In English) with computers, you feel that you have been active/ engaged at least for that day. (In Swahili) It’s not that you have just been in the house doing nothing.
Respondent: And there was a time we were asked if we are employed, to which I said no, and I thought I could get jobs (they all laugh)
Interviewer 2: (In English: she thought she would get a job from when [Research Org Anonymized] asked about her employment status. The way the research questions were asked made her think she would get a job.)
Interviewer 1: Is there anything you feel that you would want from [Research Org Anonymized]?
Respondent: to be inviting us frequently or daily (they all laugh)
Respondent: or after one day (laughs). Just that.
Respondent: and also to give participants sitting allowance plus transport (they all laugh)
Interviewer 2: (In English: Sometimes they leave without any allowance? Sometimes it is just transport?)
Interviewer 1: (Responds to the other interviewer in English: it depends. We have some games like where they are randomized where one could end up nothing but most of them have a figure that one can gain. Though it’s little.)
Interviewer: (In English: You don’t want to do the research?) laughs.
Respondent: (In English) personally I do like it because I don’t have a job and when [Research Org Anonymized] keep me busy, I forget about my other issues.
Interviewer 2: (In English) anyway I am not promising… I said I do not work for [Research Org Anonymized] so (they all laugh) [1:05:00]…let me not give you false promises, but I think it’s good for them to also know how you want to be engaged even more. It is good to just put it out there but… no promises. Interviewer 3 do you have any other questions?
Interviewer 3: (In English) I do. I am curious about how your partners feel about you doing or participating in research?
Interviewer 1: how do your partners feel about you doing research? There are those with boyfriends, others with husbands…
Respondent: for me, I must tell him that I will participate in a certain research and he is okay with me doing it, but he normally wants to know what we are taught or learn in those research
Interviewer 1: (Translates to English: so, the hubby is okay with her doing the research but will ask what they’ve been taught that day or what she’s learnt that day from [Research Org Anonymized]). (In Swahili) are there those whose husbands don’t like them participating in research?
Interviewer 1: and did they have an issue at the beginning, or have they been okay with it all through?
Respondent: not at all, as long as I had explained it to him and that I would be getting something small, he was okay.
Respondent: for the first time, I told him that those people who had recruited us are calling us to participate in the research and he even gave me the directions to the place, after I came back in the evening and I even showed him the paper that had research details and he said that was a good thing. But there was a time we left there very late at around 6:30pm which caused me to get home late, after him, and he was not happy about that. He was not happy about me coming home late. Sometimes they run a bit late which is a problem.
Respondent: there’s a time [1:10:00] we got very late. We were leaving there at 6:30 PM. I thought I would get home before him, that day I hadn’t told him that I was going to do the research, I had just gone -- I left [Research Org Anonymized] with a lot of hurry. I saw him enter the gate at home. I waited a little outside while he entered and went inside. Then I went in, removed my hijab and grabbed the basin and made like I had just come from the bathroom. It would have been a problem if he had known I had come back late because he doesn’t want that bad time.
Respondent: Also, it was raining that day, so we waited until the rain ended.
Respondent: if the research was running to about 6:30 pm or 7pm, he would not allow. But he is okay with the normal day hours.
Interviewer 3: (In English: The last question I have is: do you think researchers have a responsibility to you?)
Interviewer 1: do you think there is something we as researchers should do for you?
Interviewer 1: like what?
Respondent: like when they ask about your education or employment, I feel like they should give people jobs/ training that would help them get jobs. Or give something to the community that would help them build depending on the organization.
Interviewer 1: like what kind of help would you want the community to receive?
Respondent: for example, to help children to learn; give a boost to some people in terms of school fees; also loans for business
Interviewer 1: okay, loan for business
Respondent: I also feel that, like now results are out and you find your child has gotten a good grade, but you have no way to pay for their education, if they could support us with loans that you can repay slowly, to take the children to school.
Respondent: or even jobs as cleaners or cooks (they laugh)
Interviewer 3: (In English to be translated: I wonder… so you saw how Interviewer 2 brought the informed consent, right? What if Interviewer 2 didn’t have the informed consent and just started asking you questions. Let’s say you notice something is wrong or you feel uncomfortable with the research process, what would you do? Would you feel comfortable to do something?)
Interviewer 1: let’s say someone comes to do research with you and yet has not explained what the research is and has not gotten any consent, and in the middle of it, you feel uncomfortable going on with the questions, what would you do?
Respondent: if I feel it’s not okay, I will just walk away from the research
Interviewer 1: okay
Respondent: every research has to have a topic; a reason as to why it’s being conducted. (They all start talking at the same time)
Respondent: for me I will ask so that I can know more about it instead of walking out since I had already started it anyway, I will ask.
Respondent: I will ask them what organization they are from, where they are from and then we can continue
Interviewer 2: I think we’ve come to the end, but do you all have any questions?
Respondent: I have a question, I always wonder, how does [Research Org Anonymized] benefit from the research seeing as it seems like they always help us
Interviewer 1: we normally do research, like Interviewer 2 said she is from [1:15:01] California, and she is doing research. We also do research for various companies, they pay so that we can do the research, and that is where we consult you to get views of the various products and services, after the research, we get the findings and share the findings with the relevant people or organizations and they will know where to make corrections or how to improve their products for their customers. (Silence)
Interviewer 2: (In English: anything you want to tell us about research? Or what do you think people should know about Kibera and why is there are a lot of research done in Kibera?)
Interviewer 1: what do you think you would want others to know about Kibera?
Respondent: people should know about the (in English) poverty (in Swahili) in Kibera like lack of food; jobs; education and the poor lifestyle we live
Interviewer 2: do you think Kibera is different from other areas in Kenya?
Respondent: no it is not different with places like Kawangware, and Mathare. We have a lot of problems that we go through in these areas (uses Swahili “vijiji”)
Respondent: (In English) I would say that Kawangware is not a slum because it’s really developing. Even rent has shot up. If you go to Kawangware, you’ll be really shocked, there are some houses there going for 40k; we have Chinese, white people, living there (they all laugh), but I feel that is a good thing when the place is developing. I really feel nice.
Interviewer 2: And what do Kibera people think about Kawangware?
Respondent: Even in Kibera, there are people living that kind of life but not everyone. Most of us are poor
Respondent: there are a lot of problems. A lot. When people see you dressed well, they think otherwise but only you know the problems you have at home.
Interviewer 2: anything else?
Respondent: lack of rent and you end up being thrown outside or locked out for the house. They don’t care if you have a job or not.
Respondent: they take away your iron sheets or some even carry your door or window and go with it and yet you had talked with them and explained your situation [1:20:00] and when you go to report, the police don’t want to listen. They have taken away your iron sheets, it is raining and you are in the rain with your kids. But they just dismiss you.
Respondent: also when they were constructing the roads, they destroyed many businesses without relocating them or compensating them which led to many lifestyles reducing because of the loss of products
Interviewer 2: (In English: why is there so much research in Kibera?)
Interviewer 2: (In English) there’s so much research done here and yet the problems are still many. They should have been solved. (In Swahili) Why do you think there’s so much research in Kibera? I think more than Kawangware, Kibera has a lot of research. Why?
Respondent: because of the many problems in the area
Interviewer 2: (translates to English) They come because of the problems.
Interviewer 2: what else can researchers do to solve these problems?
Respondent: (in English) lack of employment, right now in Nairobi, most people have struggled up to university but there are still no jobs. Lack of employment affects most youths. Others feel worthless just staying at home which leads them to suicide. If there were creation of job opportunities, it would be a better place because they would be able to at least afford some rent. So lack of employment and increase in the economy and the cost of commodities going up. So the problem lies there.
Interviewer 2: thank you very much for your time. This paper is…. (shuffling of papers; movement of chairs; handing out consent forms and pens). We have already audio recorded, so you’ll tick yes for the first question.
Interviewer 1: the second one says that we might use your responses as a quote in a written presentation but without mentioning names. Like for example one of you mentioned that one of the main problems faced here was lack of water. So you can tick yes or no if you don’t want that.
Interviewer 2: Every single person should answer one by one and then we will look at them all at the end. Feel free. You can say yes or no. The second one says “written” so books, etc. the third, is in an oral presentation. [1:25:01]
Interviewer 2: the fourth one asks if you agree to the audio being used online, in the website. If you agree or not. You will tick there. Any questions? Please ask. Are we together?
Interviewer 2:: the fifth one says that it will be available for other people like students, artists to use the audio. Are you okay with that, yes or no.
(screaming kids outside)
Interviewer 1 and 2: the sixth is about the records of the interview after transcription. To have it available on the internet. Yes or no.
Interviewer 1 and 2: and the last one here is whether or not you want your name attached. Yes or no
Interviewer 1 and 2: even in the future they can ask that it be taken down from the website even if they might have agreed. My contacts are on the form. They can even ask that it be destroyed
Interviewer 1 and 2: But if it is already published somewhere, then we cannot remove it but it can always be deleted from the website.
Interviewer 2: You will all go with one copy. You will sign up here, together with your name and today’s date and we will sign down here. You can also leave it blank if you don’t want to write your name [1:30:00]
Interviewer 2: If they all agree independently for it to be shared, then I will share it online. But if even one of them refuses, then it will not be posted online. (3 of 7 refuse to have audio shared but 7/7 agree to have transcript shared online permanently for public use)
Respondent: Do I write my phone number?
Interviewer 2: No.
AO: This discussion took place at a Social Hall in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday, November 21, 2019 from 10:35 AM - 11:50 AM. The discussion was guided by an amended version of this set of questions, prepared in advance. We did not follow the guide strictly. Refreshments of queen cake muffins, samosas, mandazis and sodas were provided on the table in front of everyone and we were seated around the rectangular table. There was substantial noise from the children playing in the yard outside of the hall which made some of the audio recording inaudible. The first pass of the audio recording was done by a translator. However, it had insufficient detail so it was redone by a second translator. Interviewer 1 and 3 reviewed the transcript and deemed it sufficient. Interviewer 2 (Angela Okune) then reviewed it while also listening to the audio recording and made final edits and cleaning of the transcript. Given the participants ended up largely discussing their experience with one specific research firm, we elected to keep all participants anonymous and thus used pseudonyms. The research participants were recruited through the database of the anonymized research organization (a recruitment filter was used to screen for participants who had participated in more than 5 of the organization's studies in 2019 alone). While participants were not recruited by gender, the discussion ended up being entirely attended by women. All 3 facilitators were also women: 1 Kenyan and 2 non-Kenyan. Expenses associated with the focus group discussion were covered by the research organization through which recruitment took place.
Angela Okune, "Transcript: 191121_001 Being Researched in Kibera", contributed by Angela Okune, Research Data Share, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 13 January 2020, accessed 16 September 2021.