“Yes, yes, I like your research. It is nice to talk to Siham.” A lot of giggling follows. But then seriously: “You know, she really listens. So I normally think that I am just not interesting, just a normal girl from Mediouna (It is a town and municipality in Médiouna Province of the Casablanca-Settat region of Morocco). And then someone even writes down everything that happens in my life. So maybe, after all, my life is interesting.” Again, some cheerful giggling of a normal young woman. This specific person is one of our Moroccan respondents, but I could have had the exact same conversation in Senegal, Nigeria, and indeed other countries where we have done research with you.
Many young people that we interview for the Youth Savings Research find it very hard to believe that they are worth studying. One father (in Nigeria) even told us, “Look, this is a 16-year-old. No money going in, no money going out. What is the point of talking to my daughter? No, no, you are not allowed. This is just plain stupid. You already know the answers. Such young people don’t have any money and so they don‘t do anything with their money.” But most other parents and young people went along with the proposal, however stupid it sounded.
As the weeks of the research progressed they started to realize more and more that all those questions weren’t that stupid. Yes, the repeat questions were almost the same and quite boring, but it was showing something, it was providing that young people actually had some money to spend and had some insights to share.
The young respondents who are coming towards the end of the 13 weeks diaries in Nigeria are now fully aware. One male respondent told us; “I have some money which I can decide about. I always thought that money management is something that will start when I have a job, when I really am established, but, no, I can just start now and save, make wise choices, and make my little bit of money last. And the questions from my researcher have made me think like this. So yes, it was useful. And yes, there are boring questions but there are also those changing questions. Those are nice. The curiosity about those questions helped me stay to the end of the interview.”
This research listens carefully to young people, which in itself is needed, as they are relatively unknown. The added benefit is that listening in itself is beneficial to young people as it helps them to feel worth listening to thereby boosting morale.