By Tumaini Malenga Chiseko, Cohort 4 fellow
Most sincere thanks to CARTA for the support during my six weeks stay at the University of Warwick, under the supervision of Prof. Frances Griffiths. I am a cohort 4 CARTA fellow pursuing my studies at the University of Malawi's College of Medicine. My research is embedded in the Majete Malaria Project (MMP). MMP is a collaboration of African Parks with Wageningen University, Amsterdam Medical Centre and University of Malawi’s College of Medicine, to set up a community-driven malaria prevention intervention study in a low-income community surrounding a wildlife reserve. I will be assessing the social implications of the intervention with regards to health behaviour and changes in socio-economic indicators.
My time at Warwick was an incredibly fruitful experience in terms of getting me to think more critically about the approach to my research question, as well as polish up on my writing. I was very well supported at the medical school and had all the resources of a Warwick student at my disposal. I had access to the library, and online journals to perform my searches. I also had access to the student working space where I was able to interact with other Warwick doctoral students, some were fellow Africans.
While at Warwick, I was given the opportunity to present my work at a seminar. I had the opportunity to have my work discussed and I responded to questions that needed my attention whereas I took note of what I needed to work on later. This helped me improve on expressing my ideas. There were opportunities to participate in other seminars organized by the department. I was lucky to attend a seminar with a very similar topic to mine something that gave me an opportunity to update myself on the current literature on behaviour change communication as it relates to health, as well as other literature on influences of changes in health behaviour.
Prof. Frances Griffiths
Whilst there, Prof. Griffiths and I met four times a week for five weeks and talked through my systematic literature review. She took time out of an incredibly busy schedule to support me in a manner that I felt confident in the work I was doing. The walk back to the library after each meeting was my way of reflection. There were days I would burn out mentally but was always comforted after a meeting as I felt I had made some progress.
I learnt something new every day. It was a learning curve for us both as we tried to create a piece that brought something new to the arguments and seeing where the old thoughts were exhausted and the new gaps emerged. I did second guess myself quite a lot and I must commend Frances for helping me believe that the answer was somewhere in my mind, I just had to trust that I can bring it all together.
Coincidentally I met with Prof. Donald Cole, also affiliated with CARTA, who has very kindly agreed to co-author my paper. He offered support on his visit to Warwick and has helped shape structure the paper and my line of argument. Also useful were the one to one sessions, lasting well over an hour, with the librarian Samantha Johnson. Sam helped me understand how to run searches for articles for a review and searching for literature in general. I also met Dr Gillian Hundt who very kindly spent time with me helping me think about prospects for the future and options I would have as a young researcher in Africa.
This visit gave me an opportunity to access quite a number of useful resources that I do not have access to in Malawi. After the six weeks being at Warwick, I had the opportunity to put my paper in good shape. I am hopeful that my work will soon turn into my very first publication which I would be very proud to share. I urge other CARTA fellows to take advantage of such opportunities availed by CARTA.
Special thanks to the CARTA program for availing me this opportunity that has been an eye opener for me. I can testify that this visit has positively impacted on my research and I am confident that I will excel in remaining areas of my fellowship. I also thank Prof. Frances Griffiths and Donald Cole for helping me work through my systematic review. Gillian Hundt and Margaret Thorogood for mentoring and advice given before and during my stay at the University. Gaynor and Barbara with logistics of helping me settle in, and Samantha for helping me with the journal article searches.