My name is Hategekimana Innocent. I am 25 years old. I am from Congo. 13 years ago I came to the Nakivale Refugee Settlement with my family and I live with my parents, two sisters and one brother. My education level is Senior 6. From June 2017-2019, I worked as an office assistant with Humanitarian Initiative Just Relief Aid (HIJRA). Same year, I worked as an interpreter during general verification of refugees conducted by UNHCR, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and other partners. Then, on August 2018, I was given a side job to work as a data collector with UNHCR profiling people with special needs. On October 2019, I worked with World Bank in conjunction with REACH Uganda as an enumerator in a survey. Then on December 2019, I worked with NSAMIZI and OPM as a volunteer in settling refugees and distribution of Nonfood items (NFI’S). Currently, I work with L-IFT as a data collector.
I started working for L-IFT as a Data Collector for the Finbit App experiment on 26 August 2019 after being given training about the App and how to work as a data collector. Finbit is a financial tracking application developed by L-IFT and it facilitates self-reporting of financial activities with the function of showing respondents their own data in a systematic format so they can see patterns in their own finances. My role involved conducting interviews with respondents/participants, collecting data and entering the data in the app (or helping respondents to enter it in the right way in the app).
While doing this work, I learned several things which include;
- Acquired skills in data collecting with an android phone app
- The importance of creating a friendly and at the same time professional relationships and managing confidential information of the respondents
- Carrying great responsibilities and handling sensitive matters
- Gaining confidence in interacting with different categories of people
- Acquiring understanding on how to handle different portions of money and smart tracking of my financial transactions by receiving helpful guidance from my supervisors especially that helped me in collecting data in a professional and ethical manner.
However, I have also faced some challenges when working on Finbit;
- Some respondents were skeptical and did not want to disclose their financial information fully.
- Initially, some respondents would not know how they would benefit or how the project would be of use to them given the size of their businesses since they only associated such systematic tracking of financial data with big enterprises and companies.
- Some respondents felt as if this project was encroaching into their personal lives and thus were reluctant to participate.
- Some respondents became a bit harsh as the place of interview was at the same time their place of work, so they felt as if it was interfering with their work.
- Network was occasionally a hindrance and affected uploading and timely delivering of reports.
- Lastly, collecting data via phone calls, as a result of COVID-19, was a big challenge as reaching my respondents was hard and some were totally uncomfortable answering by phone for more than 10 minutes and it was not easy to judge their credibility as one could not observe their body expression.
On a personal level, I felt that L-IFT organisation did the needful enough to prepare us for the work and that the timely payment of salary was commendable as it enabled us to do the work with morale. On the same note, respondents as well are very grateful for the company for the concern shown and helpful support especially during this devastating COVID-19 pandemic and they felt that they were treated with humanity regardless of being refugees and their social-financial status.
Furthermore, I felt like we were professionally handled well as it regards to the feedback mechanism and the further guidance provided whenever we got challenges. I was further impressed by your concern for our safety during this COVID-19 pandemic as you not only provided us with necessary tools for our protection but also with additional budget for us to work from home for our safety.
In conclusion, in spite of several challenges we encountered we pushed through because of unity, one love and working together as one team with the management and respondents. Our respondents finally, saw the advantage of having such an organized format of tracking their financial transactions and data with Finbit and some of them have already started making the use of the knowledge based on the App. Personally I would love to work with your organization in future. Thank you.