Fatima Öhman LTU
Fatima Öhman lived with women from the bottom of society when she gathered material for her thesis.

Fatima did her thesis in India

Fatima Öhman went to India to do her thesis (essay) in the nursing program. There she met a whole new world and had transformative experiences and new knowledge.
-I recommend everyone to apply to another country as part of their education. It´s rewarding and gives a lot to be a part of another culture for some time, she says.

Fatima Öhman spent the autumn of 2013 eight weeks at an institute that trains poor women, including health issues, in the province of Madhya Pradesh.

-It was just two people who spoke English at the institute. The women who came there could sometimes not read, says Fatima.

-They were women at the bottom of society, she says.

A scholarship laid the foundation for the financing of the trip to India. -It went fairly evenly up economically, says Fatima Öhman.

In the six months the women spent time at the Institute they were first learning to read. Then they were taught, among other things, health education, environmental and ecological thinking. They also got to learn a trade so that they could support themselves.

Women's knowledge of diseases was extremely limited. Bacteria was a foreign concept to them.

Limited knowledge

-They believed that diseases were caused by someone kicked the evil eye on them, says Fatima.

It got up her eyes to the importance of knowledge as an important health factor.

-If you think the evil eye causes diseases, why would you go to a doctor? People must first gain knowledge, such as about bacteria, which means that they are motivated to go to a doctor, she says.

Fatima had made a plan for her thesis when she began the journey to India.

-But I had to do all the planning, she says.

Among other things, the language difficulties made it impossible to follow the original approach.

Fatima shared her knowledge from the nursing education in Sweden.

Instead, she decided to live among the women to get to know them. Eventually she began to interview them.

-It became an ethnographic study. Ethnographic methods have been used previously in nursing research, but it is not so very common. Health is influenced by many factors, and then it fits in well with the ethnographic method, she says.

She also held workshops for women. One was about how a thermometer is used, another about wound care in the absence of clean water and sterile equipment.

-I advised them to boil the fabric in salt water and sun-dried it before it is used for dressing wounds, says Fatima.

Background and standards

Being in a different country with completely different living conditions than they are used to create awareness of their own background and the norms that belong to it, think Fatima.

-It allows me to question them and learn from others. Because we all have something to learn from each other, she says.

An MFS scholarship laid the foundation for the financing of the India trip.

-It was at 25 000. Along with the study agent was enough money, among other things because India is a cheap country to live in, says Fatima.

Fatima's three advice to anyone thinking of making a part of their studies abroad.

* Start early with the preparations.

* Be prepared to change all your plans.

* Make sure to do it. It's fun.

Published: 8 January 2014

Updated: 14 January 2014

Luleå University of Technology