Change Takes Time, But Have Hope

Anisah McEwan

Anisah McEwan

2nd Year MPH Health Behavior Health Education Candidate

Wow, this week went by, PHAST! This past week, I and my four other team members partnered with the Grenada Ministry of Social & Community Development, Housing, and Gender Affairs to conduct focus groups and key informant interviews with people with disabilities, caregivers, and other stakeholders. This work was exciting as our recommendations may be used to establish the Disabilities Affairs Unit for the Ministry of Grenada. We interviewed a total of over 31 people! It was a quick turnaround from conducting interviews to analyzing data to finally presenting our preliminary findings. 

Throughout this experience, I often felt conflicted about my position as an outsider in this community. I was an outsider in more ways than one. I was an outsider to the Grenadian community. I was also an outsider to the disability community. All participants were so vulnerable and open in their responses, and I thank them for their courage and trust in us outsiders. 

During the week, I felt personal pressure to do this project justice. I wanted to help make a difference, a change. In the interviews, various whispers of mistrust were sprinkled throughout the conversations, with some folks feeling like no change would occur after these interviews, as had happened in the past. I wanted, and I want this time to be different. However, I understand that change takes time. After we complete our final report of recommendations for the Ministry, there needs to be time for review and reflection; after maybe a few months or even years, there may be policy changes. However, the social structures and systems at play may take decades to change, even if it does not seem like our report will create immediate change. It could start ripples that lead to waves. 

I also need to remember that change often happens due to collective action. My group was not the first one to create a report as such, and we won't be the last. Many Grenadian non-profit organizations are led by people with disabilities and allies who have been doing the work and advocacy. Many of these organizations allowed us into their spaces, took up their time, and shared their experiences. So, I thank them for being so hospitable. 

I feel that many of my peers and I, who are early in our careers, are eager to make a "change" and want to feel like the work we are doing has meaning and will make an impact. Sometimes, we forget that change takes time, but we need to have hope that it will eventually happen. 

Overall, I had a great time in Grenada! I explored new cultures, ate good food, and made new friends. I connected with so many people outside of my program and made friends that I wish I had known earlier. I am so thankful for this experience.