Now halfway through my practicum here at Nyumbani Village, I am also halfway through my in-depth qualitative interviews with the young men of the Village. With the help of three older teen “leavers” who have graduated and await admission decision letters, I pilot tested my interview guide and developed a questionnaire to familiarize the boys with my project and prepare them to participate. The deputy principals at the two schools acted as gatekeepers, arranging informational assemblies with potential participants for me to introduce myself and explain the overall aim of the project. In total, 20 boys from the secondary school and polytechnic academy have joined eight leavers and volunteered to talk (in English, no less!) about their health outcomes vis-a-vis their learned masculinity and Catholic teachings.
Upon completing the remaining interviews, I will perform thematic analysis on the coded transcripts in order to gain a whole understanding of the health needs of the Village’s boys. I have interviewed three senior grandfathers (umaus in Kikamba language) to learn more about Kamba teachings on masculinity that can be incorporated into a final program that promotes young men’s health. Upcoming will also be conversations with the parish priest and other positive male role models in the Village and school to discuss what kind of program would be best suited to respond to the findings of my qualitative study.
Alex Plum: Alex is working in Nyumbani Village and will be developing a program for adolescent young men that will draw on cultural conceptions of male identity among the Kamba (the ethnic group who call Kitui County home) to support positive health behaviors and to help equip the young men at Nyumbani Village to live healthy, successful lives.