How it all began
Finishing her study Public Health Madelon Eelderink went to a small village in Guatamala to execute a project on child health. She decided to use a approach which was new for her: Participatory Action Research.
Madelon was struck by the effect of this approach! Not only local child health was addressed, the effect of her project was much broather. And more important, a lot of people in the local village got involved and took their faith in their own hands. The project had set the whole community into action!
Madelon wanted to continue working with Participatory Action Research. After trying fruitlessly in several jobs in 2013 she decided to start her own training company. SEVEN SENSES was born!
Birth of the SEVEN SENSES Challenge format
In March 2014, Madelon went to Uganda for filming video lectures about Participatory Action Research. A local entrepreneur called Charles took her into the slums, showing her his water project called “Twekembe”. The water was dirty and local people claimed that there was a lack of support to keep it clean.
When Madelon explained to Charles what she was filming about, he asked: “Can’t you send some people from the Netherlands to do research on this issue of dirty water in the slum?” This question touched on why Madelon had founded 7Senses in the first place: not just for education purposes but to bring Action Research into practice in developing countries!
Madelon decided to combine her research trainings with actual research in practice. She designed an Action Research for Twekembe and put it on her website as ‘the Twekembe Challenge’. The first subscriptions came soon and not even two months later she was back in Uganda, guiding an international, multidisciplinary research team for the Twekembe Challenge. It had huge impact on the life of the people in the slum ánd it turned out to be a great opportunity for personal growth for the participating researchers. A unique formula was born!
Birth of the SEVEN SENSES Academy
And so, more Challenge editions followed, on a variety of different subjects. Madelon has been guiding all these Challenge editions at location in Uganda. Soon however she discovered that she herself was limiting factor for the growth of SEVEN SENSES. She could only be in one location at a time and was only able to guide e few Challenges in parallel.
If SEVEN SENSES was to boost the application of Participatory Action Research worldwide , which was her actual goal, Madelon had to come up with a solution. She decided that she had to train people to not only practice Participatory Action Research, but also to setup and guide complete Challenges.
In 2015 the SEVEN SENSES Academy saw the light! Two SEVEN SENSES Challenge supervisors were trained and guided Challenges both in Kenia. And the number of supervisors is growing! In 2016 three more supervisors were trained with the aim to guide SEVEN SENSES Challenges in South-Africa, Brazil and Zambia.
Need for funding
With the success of the SEVEN SENSES Challenge formula the need for professional fundraising increased as well. Although part of the Challenges is funded with commercial money, still additional funding is needed. In 2015 the SEVEN SENSES Foundation was founded with the aim to raise money for supporting the application of Participatory Action Research worldwide.
An obvious goal for this funding is the SEVEN SENSES Challenge. But we are also seeking other ways to apply Participatory Action Research. For instance around nature conservation or social development. Everywhere where people from communities can join forces Participatory Action Research can guide the way! Whenever commercial funding is feasible we are happy. But when a little financial support is needed to get things going, we are on our way!