This is a time of “new things” for me. It’s a new year, I’m at a new university, and I’m starting a new project.
A week ago Saturday, I arrived back in Zambia to work on the postdoctoral research that I am doing through McGill University. The research builds upon my PhD project. During the PhD, many persons with disabilities spoke to me at length about their experiences with poverty. For this reason, a main focus of my work this year is to explore what it is like to live with a disability as a new social welfare program is being rolled out in Zambia. We are all hoping that this novel program with an intuitive strategy – giving money to poor people – improves the situation of persons with disabilities. Consistent with my work these past few years, I will focus these energies on the same two communities in Western Province.
Of course, I hope that the results of this research are useful. By useful, I mean that these results help the people working on the social welfare policy to make improvements to it. As researchers, the standard strategy for being useful is to ask good questions and then answer them really well. By doing this, we hope that our work gets picked up by the people who can use it.
As part of my project this year, I am being more proactive about being useful. To be proactive, I will be speaking with people who develop disability policies in Zambia. I will also spend some time with the people who are on the frontlines of fighting for improved disability policies: leaders of disability groups who are advocating for change. This work will have me spend more time in Lusaka in 2018. For the most part, this is a good thing: I know the city quite well and enjoy being here.
An update on blogging
As you can see, this is my first post in a long time. In 2017, this blog was an experiment. In 2018, I am approaching the blog a little differently. This year, I have a better idea of my goals in blogging. These goals will have me producing posts at a more gentle pace – likely one post per every week or two. I do want this blog to be a touchstone for people to know about my work and to express interesting reflections. At the same time, I want to avoid the feelings of guilt and pressure that come from “not producing enough content.” We will see how that goes!