3. Methodology

3.2 Participant Observation

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women, committing to transmit techniques of making pads, and teaching African female the correct menstrual conception.

3.2 Participant Observation

Participant observation, in the qualitative research paradigm, is appropriate for studies of almost every aspect of human existence. The observation process enables researchers to learn about people’s activities under study in natural settings not only through observing but also participating in those activities, which provides the context for sampling guidelines and interview guides development (DeWalt & DeWalt, 2002).

Schensul, Schensul, and LeCompte (1999) define participant observation as "the process of learning through exposure to or involvement in the day-to-day or routine activities of participants in the researcher setting" (p.91). By conducting participant observation, the researcher can possibly describe “what goes on, who or what is involved, when and where things happen, how they occur, and why-at least from the standpoint of participants or insiders-things happen as they do in particular situations”

(Jorgensen, 1989; Znaniecki, 1934; Spradley, 1980)

Jorgensen (1989) explained the methodology of participant observation contains principles, procedures, methods, strategies, and techniques of research. In terms of its seven basic features:

1. a special interest in human meaning and interaction viewed from insiders or members’ perspectives of people in particular situations and settings;

2. the foundation of inquiry and method is based on location in the here and now of daily life situations and settings;

3. a form of theory and theorizing accentuating interpretation or understanding of human existence;

4. a logic and process of inquiry that is open-ended, flexible, opportunistic, and requires constant redefinition of what is problematic, based on facts gathered

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in concrete settings of human existence;

5. an in-depth, qualitative, case study approach and design;

6. the participant role’s performance involves establishing and maintaining relationships with natives on site; and

7. direct observations as a primary data-gathering device.

The researcher adopted the participant-as-observer role in this study as gaining access to be a part of the setting by virtue of leading a natural and non-research reason.

Different from being a complete observer or observer-as-participant, participant-as-observer indicated that “both field worker and informants are aware that theirs is a field relationship” (Gold, 1958). The most frequent role of this is in community studies or health care settings, as observer spend more time in participating and develop relationship with informants through time (ibid). In an ethical manner, I had informed the purpose for observing is to document the stakeholders’ activities.

Fieldwork is required in doing participant observation research method. It involves "active looking, improving memory, informal interviewing, writing detailed field notes, and perhaps most importantly, patience" (DeWalt et al., 2002). More of an experience for doing research, fieldwork is viewed as an experience of vision exploration activity that the researcher performed a self-reflective process through capturing the subject matters. It is exactly like what Glaser and Strauss (1967) claims that “in field work…general relations are often discovered in vivo; that is, the field worker literally sees them occur” (p.40).

In this study, the researcher volunteered to be the Love Binti group traveling to Kenya for the twelve-day voluntary works (see itinerary in Table 4).

Maasai Mara National Park

19/03/16 A day in the slum-to experience with local dwellers

14/03/16 Maasai Mara National Park&

Maasai Tribe

20/03/16 Church day& donation goods sending at private schools 15/03/16 6.5 hours to Kitale town, Step

30 base (stop by Kisumu for

23/03/16 Meeting with Ecopost founder Departure23:05

Kenya airway KQ 860 Table 4. Love Binti third group voluntary itinerary

The voluntourism program (see location in Figure2 ) contained sightseeing in the Maasai Mara national reserve as well as the Maasai tribe, performing jiggers1 treatment for infested Kenyans in rural Mountain Elgon, visiting the shoe container converted to community schools, sending donated goods to Precious Kids Center, a

1 Tunga penetrans (chigoe flea or jigger) are small sand fleas mostly found in Sub Saharan climates, and are prominent during the dry season. Being the parasitic burrowers, jiggers live in soil and sand but feeds on warm-blooded hosts (i.e. animals and humans). They burrow in humans’ hands or feet. It is estimated that over 1.4 million people affected by jiggers in Kenya, especially for those in rural areas.


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Community-Based Organization (CBO) serving disabled children, spending a day with families in the slum-Matisi, and sending donation goods from Taiwan to rural villages near Kitale. Kitale town was where Step 30 based in the Western part of Kenya. Last but not least, the trip’s primary goal entailed teaching Kenyan school girls, women dwelling in communities and slums how to make reusable cotton pads as alternatives to costly disposable ones.

Figure 2. Map of location

(reproduced from https://joshuaproject.net/countries/KE)

The researcher will be analyzing and writing up the data as the itinerary proceeded. Besides from the data mentioned above (i.e. interviews, secondary

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materials), the researcher kept the field notes as the main sources. Field notes consisted of mental notes (intended low-profile kept by the researcher to secretly memorize the activity, participants, facts etc.), jotted notes (brief words or phrases written down at the field site, which more complete notes will be written later), and fuller jotting (detailed description to identify the setting, activities, preliminary connections or potential conclusions made by researcher). A handy list of what all field notes should include adopted by the researcher was developed by Chiseri-Strater and Sunstein (1997):

1. Date, time, and place of observation

2. Specific facts, numbers, details of what happens at the site 3. Sensory impressions: sights, sounds, textures, smells, taste 4. Personal responses to the fact of recording field notes

5. Specific words, phrases, summaries of conversations, and insider language 6. Questions about people or behaviors at the site for future investigation 7. Page numbers to help keep observations in order

To sum, participant observation is regarded as the main method for collecting data since this method offers certain degree of flexibility, which is suitable for exploratory and descriptive research. Meanwhile, the collected data cannot be obtained via other methodologies. Through participating with the organizational activities in Kenya, the researcher believed it was the most practical and effective means of gathering onsite information.

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