Participatory Action Research for Positive Change

Alice Grasveld

 

AliceAlice Grasveld is what you call a centipede. She is an independent dental hygienist, medical anthropologist and teacher. She combines all this with various oral care projects in developing countries. The PAR method of 7Senses is an important success factor.

 

Looking for solutions together with the community
“Just the right balance between science and practice!”

 

Alice Grasveld has a background in different disciplines. She studied dental hygiene first. She also did an acting education at the Acteerstudio in Scheveningen. She started doing dental volunteer work in the south of Kenya together with Dutch Dental Care Foundation. Afterwards she decided to study Medical Anthropology, because she wanted to learn mote about other cultures and especially about people in Sub-Saharan Africa and how they deal with their health.

After her studies she conducted a qualitative research into water and sanitation in Khayelitsha township in Cape Town. This is one of the largest townships of the world where they have issues such as open sewer systems and lack of access to clean water and sanitation (toilets).
That was an impressive and humbling experience for her. There she stumbled upon a lot of problems that we cannot fix by doing research and writing a report alone. She wanted to solve the problems together with the community. Then she discovered participatory action research, which was an eye opener.

Next year she conducted an action research with 7Senses into female entrepreneurship in Lunga Lunga slum in Nairobi.

Afterwards she followed the education in action research at the 7Senses Action Research Academy later she returned to her own ‘unique niche’ and supervised an action research into oral health among disadvantaged children from Mfuleni township, Cape Town, for a dental charity called Dental Wellness Trust.
Part of the action plan was a daily supervised toothbrushing and handwashing program at a large primary school. But also local solutions, such as a play and songs (made by the school children and other locals) to educate people from the township about oral health, were added.

This project was a big success and one of the most amazing learning experiences of her life, and in 2017 she won the first prize of the UvA Alumni Awards with it. This award stimulated her to start her own foundation, The Healthy Teeth Foundation, and repeat the action research project in 2019 in the South of Kenya. This time she collaborated with Dutch Dental Care Foundation and 7Senses, in this way they could offer dental treatment, action research and a community-based-prevention plan.
With her foundation and this last project she won the Viva400 Award in the category ‘world improvers’ in 2019.

Further Reading



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