"The means is dialogue, the end is learning, the purpose is peace." ~ Founder Dr. Jane Vella
Since 2004 the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) www.redcross.org.cn has collaborated with the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) www.redcross.ca to support important HIV and AIDS prevention projects in China. Together they have been working with the high-risk group of Intravenous Drug Users (IDUs) in Deyang, as well as Commercial Sex Workers (CSWs) and University students/volunteers (UVs) in Nanchong, all in Sichuan Province. Presently, the second phase of the project is nearing its end and it is in the interest of both RCSC and CRC to review and document the successes and challenges of the project, and well as learning where new programing is needed. For this work, Global Learning Partners (GLP) was invited in to collaborate and offer its experience in training, evaluation and capacity-building.
One way to evaluate the program is through the use of case studies using emotion-based data collection methods, including stories, drawing, pictures, and snippets of informal and structured dialogue with those involved in the program. This qualitative research evaluation methodology is unique and highly effective in collecting rich nuanced data, while maintaining the confidentiality of all participants. We wanted to ‘take a detailed picture’ of the program, yet without the use of a camera.
For the purposes of capacity-building and to maximize the feeling of safety during the interview process, the staff who implemented the program were also the team who conducted the review. This helped to ensure deep personal sharing of real-life challenges and celebration as a result of the RCSC work.
There were two important results seen: a) with the documentation of the Deyang and Nanchong Projects, the RCSC is now equipped to share the key learnings, challenges and successes in the program with similar projects in RCSC in the region and around the world; and b) RCSC staff is equipped to carry out similar research and evaluation projects in the future, on other projects, and eventually to share their knowledge with their colleagues in RCSC and in China.
The challenges included the confidential nature of the project as the treatment involves addressing illegal underground activities; the sensitive nature of the activities involved who were sometimes reluctant to talk about their activities; and, working with assistants who needed to bridge language and culture differences.
The anticipated change for Deyang and Nanchong as a result of the completion of this project include a) an enhanced ability to reflect critically on the successes and challenges of the project, and ultimately improve and strengthen the project activities; b) strengthened capacity to share the methodology and results of the Deyang and Nanchong projects with similar interventions in China and elsewhere; and, c) an ability to plan and implement similar case study projects in the future.
Personal life story as drawn by a CSW Peer Educator.