Dear friends,


Can a facilitator of Community Life Competence Process give information about HIV during the process on demand of the community if linking is not working out? Will it jeopardize its role?

 

This is a question we ask ourselves here in DR-Congo. RDCCompetence worked on a partnership with UNOPS in the East of Congo. The Terms of Reference demanded sensitization amongst road communities along a newly constructed highway. RDCCompetence responded, but demanded they would do it ‘their way’. They won the selection process.

 

So they selected facilitators, transferred the approach, practiced in communities together, established 2 good SALT teams. After facilitating self-assessment in a number of communities, they also conducted sensitization sessions with the wider group of communities that demanded more knowledge. Most of the facilitators of RDCC are trained peer educators as well. Actually, that’s how they got to know each other.


Can a facilitator wear two hats? Is it desirable or not? 

Our experience in Papua New Guinea showed that communities demanded sensitization sessions, but the Linking with NGOs didn’t work. All the NGOs said: “we don’t work in that area” or other reasons. So Goroka still didn’t get an awareness session….Should our local team of facilitators have done it if they had the capacity to do it?  

 

What do you think? 


Laurence and Gaston

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I think what makes us different from others is the ability to adapt to any process we find ourselve. One of the skill of a facilitator is flexibility, being able to facilitate an HIV/AIDS process, also facilitating a proposal writing and other processes. I believe everything is all about the experience acquire as a facilitator.So a facilitator can be involve in different process.
Chers tous, voici une réflexion qu j'ai faite en février avant de participer à une mission de "sensibilisation" dans le Rutshuru à l'est de la RDC.

DE LA SENSIBILISATION AU SALT

Est-il suffisant de sensibiliser nos communautés face au danger du VIH si une discussion préalable n’a pas encore été engagée parmi ses membres ?

RDCCompétence a été recrutée par l’UNOPS, le bureau des nations Unies d’appui aux projets, pour s’occuper de la sensibilisation des populations vivants le long de l’axe routier Kiwanja- Ishasha dans le Nord- Kivu, une des onze provinces de la République Démocratique du Congo. Cette sensibilisation sur le dit axe réhabilité par l’UNOPS avec le financement de l’USAID devra se faire en 18 jours.

Au vu du travail demandé par les « bailleurs », une réflexion logique a été engagée au sein de RDCCompétence : Comment sensibiliser les communautés ciblées tout en semant les germes d’une appropriation locale de la lutte contre le VIH/SIDA ? La réponse à cette interrogation permettrait une rencontre des aspirations de l’UNOPS qui se résument à la sensibilisation des communautés vivant le long de l’axe ou y exerçant une activité à celle de RDCCompétence qui promeut la réponse locale face aux problèmes de la vie notamment celui du VIH/SIDA.

En effet, l’approche SALT (Soutenir, Apprécier, Lier, Transférer), utilisée par RDCCompétence permet une discussion communautaire sur les problèmes de la vie à l’issue de laquelle un plan d’action constitué des Petites Actions Faisables (PAF) par les membres de la communauté eux-mêmes est élaboré. Ceci facilite par un processus d’apprentissage par l’action, l’appropriation communautaire du problème et de la recherche de la solution. La démarche de RDCCompétence pour cette activité serait de faciliter cette discussion et cette planification des PAF au sein des populations vivant le long de l’axe Kiwanja- Ishasha. Pour les groupes qui prévoiront des séances sensibilisations dans leurs plans d’actions, les facilitateurs les mettront en lien avec des structures spécialisées ou s’ils le souhaitent organiserons ensemble des séances de partage d’expériences sur le VIH/SIDA dans le respect de la philosophie SALT.

En vue de faciliter l’appropriation communautaire et d’éviter de faire une simple sensibilisation et disparaître, une formation des leaders communautaires en SALT est prévue. Ceux-ci constitueront la principale équipe de facilitation de la réponse locale sur l’axe étant donné qu’ils résident dans le milieu concerné.

L’expérience de RDCCompétence dans le travail avec la base lui permet d’affirmer qu’en matière de VIH/SIDA, acquérir simplement des connaissances ne suffit pas pour se protéger soi-même et protéger les autres. Il est plutôt nécessaire développer des compétences face au problème. Ce dernier terme comporte en lui non seulement la connaissance suffisante du VIH/SIDA mais aussi la mise en pratique de ses connaissances au niveau de l’individu et au niveau de la communauté. Pour y arriver, il ne suffit pas seulement de planifier de sensibilisations pour les communautés mais de faciliter la planification par les communautés de ces sensibilisations après une discussion du problème. Car une sensibilisation imposée n’a jamais eu le même résultat qu’une sensibilisation demandée par les communautés.

Eric NGABALA
Février 2010
Team,

Hi - interesting question and experience, Laurence. I'm sitting in Maputo having dinner with Virgilio before commencing the Handicap International Knowledge Fair. So we thought we'd respond to your question.

Virgilio says: "We need to ask what we mean by 'facilitation'. If we resort to responding to requests for information we risk going back to traditional ways of working where we have volunteers and activists who are trained to give information to people, and we are missing our role as facilitators. That means being alongside people, working from their strengths, and stimulating them to talk about specific life experiences. Even though I agree that facilitators should be flexible to respect what is coming from the community, our role is to work with what they are expressing to stimulate their response. When the community asks for information, a mature facilitator does not ask 'what other information do they need.' Instead, he asks 'what is their motivation for asking that question?', and follows that lead from the community. We have to respect the integrity of the facilitation team approach, and be sure that our ways of working do not reinforce an old organisational culture where communities who don't know things rely on our external knowledge and expertise."

Wow! What else can I add? Not much! Awesome stuff, Virgilio.

Looking forward to the thoughts of others. Again, great question, Laurence.
Ricardo
Hi friends,

I discussed more with Eric about his recent experience of giving information. Eric is in bed with malaria at this point in time, so I'll share what he explained to me. (Eric, feel free to complete what I missed!)

Eric explained that they do not use the traditional 'awareness raising session', where the educator talks like a expert-radio.
Rather, they stimulate a discussion in the community by asking strategic questions. Often, someone in the community has the information about HIV. The facilitator can stimulate this person to share what he/she knows.
But, on top of that (which I find very interesting) the facilitators shared their own experience with HIV. For example, one facilitator shared about the time he went for testing, someone else shared about how he uses a condom, etc.

In this way, the facilitators make sure that the community has clear information at the end but they do it in an interactive and human way, where we all share experiences rather then knowledge or expertise.
Would this be a way forward?

Laurence
Souvent lors des visites Salt les communautés s'attendent à recevoir de l'information sur le SIDA de notre part et il nous est difficile de ne pas la donner surtout quand la communauté échange des fausses informations. Je crois qu'il est nécessaire de prévenir d'empblée que nous ne sommes pas venus pour donner l'information en disant où ils peuvent la trouver s'ils le souhaitent. Eventuellement nous pouvons dire que s'ils le souhaitent nous pouvons prévoir une autre rencontre pour la donner (si nous sommes qualifiés pour le faire).
La même qustion s'était posée pour Belcompetence avec Khadija qui était parvenu à combiner les 2, donner l'info puis passer à la visite SALT. A une autre occasion les facilitateurs ont fait la visite Salt après que la communauté (maison de la participation d'Anderlecht) aie reçu l'information par d'autres et cela semblait une meilleure approche.
En bref il n'y a pas de réponse systématique et surtout il est souhaitable de donner l'info suite à la demande de la communauté.

Mimi
I don't know the answer to the question.

Some thoughts from different perspectives.

1. Ask the facilitators who have done this. Ask those who have had the experience what they learned from that experience.

2. In another world, my experience is that the danger is a confusion of roles. A facilitator is someone who 'makes things easier'. When they try to play another role AT THE SAME TIME, that causes confusion, irritation and sometimes anger.

3. But in that other world, the facilitator is not a full-time role. They play other roles in the organisation and they are accepted in those roles when they are not facilitators.

4. In the world of the Constellation, SALT defines the way that we work. So we seek at all costs to avoid being the expert when we facilitate. We seek to be seen as a non-expert as a member of a SALT team.

5. Perhaps there is a distinction to be made between the facilitator providing sensitisation and the community recognising that it needs information and one small doable action is for the community to invite the facilitator to provide that information in a separate session and thus in a separate role.

6. In a nutshell, the reality of the situation may require the facilitator to provide sensitisation. The tension is real. The challenge is to resolve the dilemma in a way that respects the spirit of our way of working and our way of thinking. Would be interesting to seek to resolve the dilemma in the context of a SALT team. So different members could emphasise different roles?


phil
Can a facilitator give information on HIV? Nice question worthy of self-analysis of current facilitators who may forgot that they are not teachers or educators but facilitators of learning that are drawn from communities. Otherwise there will be conflict that many not feel but will seep into the psyche of the facilitator and may fail to recognize his/her role in every salt s/he does. I think this question should be always be asked and self assessed.

Can a facilitator wear two hats? another question worth pondering. Using two hats simultaneously is preposterous (especially if one is a Mexican hat and the other is a hat of the cat in the hat. jokejokejoke) but using each in different atmosphere is a skill that needs one to be aware that s/he is not anymore a facilitator when s/he educate or an educator when s/he facilitate. But if this happen, my goodness, the facilitator is dancing a Mexican hat dance (keep on changing hats every second hahahaha oh my so we got another hat, an entertainer's hat hahahah. In a SALT dialogue? I think not. Three hats should be used by three different persons.

If communities demand information (correct, accurate and updated) about an issue of life concern, why would they seek that in the SALT dialogue on the first place? it only means their perceptions of the facilitators are educators or professors more knowledgeable than them and so they stop sharing and learning from each other but get information from other people. Instead of the facilitator listening, it’s them demanding the facilitator to do the talking. It defeats the purpose of SALT dialogue. This is already a side effect of previous practices of community workers and so must be changed. SALT facilitators should first clarify that SALT is a dialogue it’s a process of inquiry and not instruction. Before they visit, the community should first know what SALT is all about or if its the first visit, communities should understand what SALT is all about. The expected outcome should be for them to share their knowledge (right or wrong) to their peers.

Right or wrong information is a different issue that may arise in a SALT dialogue. Correcting those issues during SALT will just ruin the inquiry process. That’s why SALT doe not a one shot deal, its a on-going process of facilitating an on-going learning process that take place in communities. The role of the facilitator is to facilitate the SALT and the documenter document the proceedings and all the information are then analysed. The SALT team together with the community will then plan for their next step maybe an activity like seminar to correct myths etc with a speaker from their community, if not from a University just near them, a health center doctor or someone of authority they trust in their locality. Or the facilitators should develop a package community visit and bring with them a resource person like this schedule:

5:00 - 6:30 SALT dialogue
6:30 - 7:00* SPICE lecture (correct the myths**)
7:00 - 8:30 and everything NICE (planning, dreaming, dancing)

*working snacks
**can be done during next visit

I suggest that apart from the general template (self assessment) with 10 practices, the constellation should develop specialized or specific self-assessment tools (one for knowledge and beliefs under cognitive, one for attitudes and feelings under affective and one for behaviours under psychomotor) where communities can assess their knowledge base and create their river diagram so that they will know what information they need to know more and information that is already present with members that can be reinforced.

If I am a facilitator, I should be very conscious of my role as facilitator of learning. Learning comes from the communities. Facilitators are knowledge managers and develop tools out of community knowledge and bring this tools back to them for them to use them to improve their competence on life issues. Regardless whether information that we gather are right or wrong, we should correcting what is wrong in another avenue of discussion that can be done right after the SALT by a different resource person. Information is a resource and let’s not spread ourselves thinly, later on they will ask for food, for shoes, for house, for everything and we are not anymore promoting Life Competence.

Let’s build a community life competence team, one doing facilitation, the other documentation, the other as information resource and another for entertainment and more that can make the community visit fun and exciting and worthy of being remembered as happy, positive and not stressful and as Phil said tense. So when fun starts, each dance with their own hats and not one person dancing a Mexican dance with many hats. Totally crazy and confusing and at the end, your facilitation indeed caused you fatigue.

My response is very long already, I will add another response after this with regards to a very good example I have experience.

johnpierre
Johnpierre,

I enjoyed that essay so very much. Thank you.

I would like to hear a little more about your ideas on the specialised Self Assessments.
One for knowledge and beliefs.
One for attitudes and feelings.
One for behaviours.

I remember very well your Self Assessment based around risks rather than practices that we have talked about. So what might these additional Self Assessments look like?

Do you think that they have to have the same 'structure' as the Self Assessment framwork? Do we need to have practices and levels or is there another way? I would like to keep the idea of Self Assessment, but I would like something that is less onerous. Perhaps more closely related to the actions people are taking.

Best regards
phil
Dear Phil

Please see separate forum for my response at http://aidscompetence.ning.com/forum/topics/specialized-self-assess...
Great question! In my experience (mostly in an organizational, rather than a community context), a facilitator carrying an agenda is a problem waiting to happen. Of course, as a facilitator you have a certain outcome in mind which you'll be facilitating towards, but your constantly sensing whether that is still appropriate given what's alive in the group you're facilitating. What you're really facilitating, after all, is not your own process design (first this, then that), but the group process. In order to be able to work with what's present, in my experience the facilitator needs to be willing to let go of his or her own agenda, so you can become open to what wants to emerge. It's really a service role, not an expert one.

That said, I can imagine that at certain times it would serve the group process to get certain information. In that case, I strongly support the view that in this case, first-person storytelling (talking 'from') will be more effective than a third-person information transfer (talking 'about'). Finally, the reason I think it's so important to remain 'neutral' as a facilitator, is that the facilitator plays a key role in creating the 'container' within which the group process can occur, and therefore in deciding what is inside and what is outside of that container. It's very easy to dominate from the role of the facilitator, even unconsciously and without any intention to do so.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter.
Interesting response, Calle! I agree with you that when people ask questions these shouldn't remain unanswered. But there are different ways to deal with questions :-) and there are people who have more skills then others to answer questions.

Two weeks ago in DR-Congo, we were facilitating a SALT visit with a group of young girls. At the start of the discussion they asked us 'How can you get HIV?'. I then encourage the girl who ask the question to respond what she knew and then I asked the other girls to complete the information. In the end, they mentioned all the ways of transmission. But in case it didn't come out, I could have completed the missing bits, for instance.
But it was probably not the time for a long explanation on HIV... that could be done much better by NGOs that have the experience in this.

Laurence

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