Saturday 8th August – 8 months, 23 days
I always learn something new in every single interview, and I have got some amazing interviews, so I’m very grateful for this. But, interviewing in the districts is hard. We never know where to get food, find a toilet, or even, on occasion, someone who will be good to interview.
The best bit (by which I mean the most exciting, frustrating, harrowing bit where I actually closed my eyes and went into my happy place to avoid turning into a person-shaped hurricane of fury) was when, after I had just asked about half a dozen young and older males who were interestedly listening in (this always happens) to my interview to move away and give us some space...
yet another village chief stumbled into the interview* and went off at us about essentially all the stereotypical things Timorese might resent about malae: consultation without notice or returning anything to the community, potentially harming people they see as vulnerable, etc.
The frustrating thing for me was, of course, that I have tried LIKE NOTHING ELSE to be the opposite of these very things. I contacted the gender focal point and asked her to identify suitable people. Nobody has to talk to me if they don’t want to. He thought I was trying to harm the woman I was talking to; I’m trying to get her voice heard so people like *him* can’t harm *her* (with their attitudes). I try to visit at convenient times for people. I plan to make concrete recommendations for gender-based violence programs, culture programs etc, get my work translated into Tetum and I will get copies to all of the district gender focal points / administration.
So I wanted to go off at him, but didn’t, and my restraint was rewarded: turned out he was drunk. Once that was established, everyone else suddenly got a lot braver about how to get rid of him, and he blithered off back to wherever he came from.
- Village chiefs all insist on being interviewed, or people think I should interview them, or something. It’s useful to have a couple for my thesis but I don’t want to skew my results, you know, and I REALLY would rather talk to older people who know a lot about barlake or younger people who may know less but it really affects them.