Ten non-obvious assumptions about our stakeholders that we need to validate.
1. young girls do not know anything about pregnancy and giving birth. because they are kept out of the decision-making processes, they are uninformed and do not know.
2. the value of children contributes largely to how women identify themselves, which is also linked to the lack of education women receive.
3. rural community members don’t feel it necessary to go to the hospital unless they believe they are dying. They think that going to the hospital will automatically mean they will need surgery.
4. husbands do not play any role in the decision-making processes of births. they are only there for financial support.
5. there are now more TBA’s who act as Maternal and Newborn Health Promoters than there are actual TBA’s so that instead of delivering the babies themselves, they refer pregnant women to hospitals and commit to antenatal and postnatal care.
6. TBA’s prefer their new roles as MNHP’s more than their old ones and think that they are doing better work.
7. the professional healthcare system lacks a standardized protocol that every health worker should follow.
8. Women are not aware of the immediate causes of maternal death such as sepsis and hemorrhage and they are desensitized to say that it is God’s plan or it was something inevitable.
9. Rural community members, especially women, may not want to be filmed or be wary of being filmed.
10. women do not want to go to the hospital because it takes away time from their domestic work with the family and because they think that they will get surgery when it is not necessary.
Ten hypotheses about my project that we need to test during fieldwork.
1. We know that the clinics and hospitals in Sierra Leone are underfunded and not fully equipped but we do not know the extent of how much so we need to go and check that out in the field.
2. the maternal mortality count is probably undercounted but we want to roughly by how much.
3. we know there is a really poor infrastructure with getting medical care on time but we do not know the extent.
4. rural community members are distrustful of the government and government workers because of the wealth gap.
5. there is an emphasis on quantity over quality in terms of professional health workers. There are more community health workers than there are doctors and more experienced medical practitioners.
6. the wide knowledge gap between urban and rural populations in terms of how they can prevent maternal mortality.
7. geographic differences between urban and rural locations. in rural places, there will probably be dirt and natural land that is easily affected by season and weather that can act as barriers to travel to the clinic whereas, in urban regions, there are more paved roads and more transportation systems.
8. the efforts taken to educate women on how to prevent maternal mortality are still weak and the Ministry of Health still has a difficult time reaching a large audience.
9. Traditional healers are still widely used and accepted and believed to work by community members, especially in rural areas.
10. short life expectancy and high fertility rates changes people’s priorities compared to Americans who have longer life expectancies and bigger ambitions.
My background as an English major with documentary story making and sustainable development minors allows me to bring a new perspective when it comes to tackling the research necessary for understanding the maternal mortality crisis in Sierra Leone. My English courses have all taught me how to think deeply about complex issues as well as identify the connections between lots of different aspects of an issue. My documentary studies have made me very aware of the ethics concerning documentary work. It is important to remember that as documentarians we are asking others to put intimate details of their lives on public display. On the other side of the camera, we have power and we must always be aware of this. My sustainable development courses have taught me a lot about working with impoverished communities and the concept of the “white savior.” I think that by including local filmmakers and students in our project, we can create a more powerful and inclusive film that comes across as more authentic and less exploitative. One of my weaknesses is that I lack a background in business and health. Some of those concepts are a bit foreign to me, but I’m learning more through my research and through talking to my team members who come from different areas of study.