And so we arrive at the last day of project-related activity. In light of the fact that the analysis of the Phase 2 had to be conducted, it was always going to be a busy day. In keeping with our routine, we started with a prayer and a song. Throughout our time together, this has served to promote a sense of togetherness and to orientate to the group to the values that are guiding the work that we have been doing.
We worked steadily through the day. The team’s commitment to the project never wavered even in spite of the very warm temperatures. I had an interesting chat with Katja and Richard at lunch about the potential contribution that the Creative Arts and Translating Cultures (CATC) hub of the ‘Researching Multilingually…’ Project team can make to enrich the data gathered by the ‘Case Study 1’ work that we are conducting in Uganda. It was great to get a sense of the competing factors that the CATC hub is contending with. To my mind, there is a need for the work of the CATC hub to be sufficiently sophisticated and theoretically-informed to satisfy academics interested in the creative arts. However, there is also an additional requirement for the CATC hub’s work to avoid being academically abstracted to such a level that discipline-specific researchers (such as me!) struggle to recognise the potential opportunities for collaboration and the mutual benefits this can provide.
As a mental health researcher, I am particularly interested in the role that the creative arts can play in enlivening efforts to engage with the public about the research that I am involved in. As such, I am keen to explore how the creative arts can potentially facilitate and strengthen public engagement with the Case Study 1 findings. These will be important discussions to develop with Katja and the other members of the CATC hub.
As the work started to wind down in the late afternoon, Katja took the opportunity to do brief video interviews with members of the local research team to gather their reflections on their involvement in the project. I look forward to reviewing these videos, and seeing how we can integrate these (and the daily video-diary interactions that we recorded) into presentations relating to the research activity
The project work was completed just before 5pm – virtually to the exact minute of the timeline that had been stipulated in the research proposal. It was an incredibly satisfying moment for me personally and, by the expressions on people’s faces, this was also the case for the members of the team.
Fr Ponsiano kindly offered to drive some of us into town to purchase presents. This afforded an opportunity to take in more sights, sounds and smells of the hustle and bustle of Lira. Katja collected the dress that had been tailored for her, and Richard and myself scoped out some gift opportunities.
Richard, Katja and myself had decided earlier in the week that we would take the team out for dinner on Friday evening as a thank you for all their hard work. So, at 8pm we gathered at The Lira Hotel. It was lovely to see everyone relaxed and happy. It is hard to believe that some members of the team had not met each other prior to the project commencing. It is clear that enduring friendships have been forged. There were speeches of respect and gratitude. I gave special thanks to Fr Ponsiano who has been tireless in his commitment to the work. He, more than anyone else, has been pivotal to the completion of the research. Rosco deserves a special mention for his wise counsel, important insights and looking after us so well.
Following the meal, there were riddles and puzzles for the group to share and solve – Jimmy Bongo was Master of Ceremony for this section. Elizabeth sang us a farewell song that wished us well for our journey home. We were presented with thank you cards and a special gift – a mix of ‘sim-sim’ (ground sesame seeds) and ‘ground nuts’ (peanuts). It is a local delicacy and will be perfect for us to enjoy on toast.
It was always going to be an occasion tinged with some sadness. Leaving Lira, after the experiences we have had here, is a wrench. But rather than this being a goodbye, this is more of a ‘we will see you again’. We have been genuinely touched by the warm welcome and kindness that we have been afforded. The sincerity of the words of thanks that we received from the team shone out as brightly and as clearly as the stars shining down from the cloudless sky above us.