This year I had the chance to personally collect data from the youth participating in our annual RUFC Football and Health Camp. We seek to collect data from our campers to help inform and focus our educational efforts and to generate evidence of a sustainable and measurable impact resulting from our programming. Thanks to a strenuous collective effort, led by USC faculty and students and GHN (U) staff, we’ve managed to survey over 300 youth and compile a unique set of data. You can read the final survey report HERE. (Note - our research was approved by the necessary ethics committees in the US and in Uganda.)
I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to participate in the data collection and found great value in the process. By conducting interviews, I personally discovered a deeper connection with, and understanding of, the youth whom we serve. In asking questions regarding their knowledge and beliefs about health and wellness, I was reminded that the reason we fundraise and organize these camps is for the benefit of the youth. Their responses reinforced the need for health education programming and the need for RUFC (and me personally) to continue advocating and fundraising has never been clearer to me.
Last March, I served on a panel at USC and the panelists spoke extensively about the disconnect between the benefactor and beneficiary in philanthropy. One of the panelist used the example of an organization purchasing and distributing numerous mosquito nets, only for them to be used as fishing nets. I argued then, and still believe now, that the organization in question was wrong in assuming that malaria was the most pressing problem for this community. Or that their ‘misuse’ of the nets was ill-informed or ‘wrong’. Based on their behavior, I argued, food security or economic income from fish was clearly perceived as more important than the need to sleep under a net.
One of the things I have learned over the past five years is that data needs to be collected and communities need to inform any effective programming. This is true for RUFC, there are gaps that lie between us and the communities we seek to assist. Through the data collection and analysis process, I believe we have taken steps towards overcoming that gap. In addition, data collection and analysis is likely to be integral to many of the career paths which I will have to decide between in the coming years. It couldn’t hurt to get a little head start!
Ray Wipfli, RUFC founder, shares his thoughts.