The power of belonging

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Abstract

Coming from a Nordic environment, professionally working in teacher education, both authors engaged in developmental work and research in the Uluguru mountains in Tanzania. The research is carried out in a community-based organization for vulnerable youth, Mgeta Orphan Education Foundation (MOEF), which builds on principles of action learning and action research. We have followed and participated in the development of the organization since 2010, and this article builds on data gathered in 2016-17. We will show and discuss some of the transformations we have witnessed, mainly in the older members. The transformations seem to have an emergent character, and we examine further factors we have seen as crucial for transforming the lives of the young people in the orphan education project. Surprisingly, duty was a factor coming forth in the data. The youth perceived duty in a relational way, mainly caused by inner motivation nurtured by the example of their coordinator, Solomon, and by facing the continuous, emergent need for assistance in their local communities. Less surprisingly, belonging transpired as a fundamental factor. Previously, we have analyzed the transformational learning among the youngsters, and identified a set of transformational tools (Gjotterud, Krogh, Dyngeland, & Mwakasumba, 2015). Building on the transformational tools, we have derived a model for Relational Transformation. Transformative action research is the approach we follow, and one aim of this article is to contribute to the understanding of the reciprocity of transformative processes in transformative research.

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