Introducing SALT

It was quick … and it worked, I think !

 

Kausar S Khan

 

Twenty young men and women were being trained to become lay counselors for patients with drug resistant TB. They are getting prepared to visit the patients in their homes. The focus of the training was to develop all the competencies needed for tis sensitive work. This included listening skills, probing, exploring options, to name some elements. Information on TB and its consequences had also been included in the training.

 

This was a 5 days training, and a request was made by the manager of the program to introduce community engagement to the group, and two hours were allocated. It was obvious, that at best community engagement , as an idea, could be introduced, and then a taste of SALT would be provided so that participants could decide whether they need more of SALT

 

 In the first 30 minutes, following three steps were taken :

  1. Set ground rules for brainstorming (none of the participants were familiar with brainstorming)
  2. Brainstorm : Engagement
  3. Brainstorm : Community
  4. State the purpose of engaging patients with drug resistant TB.
  5. Introduction of the ecological model. This draws attention to the relationship between an individual , his/her family, and the neighborhood.

 

The next 1 ½ hours were for SALT. This was introduced through the following exercises:

  1. Exercise 1.What is humanity; what does it mean to be human. Each participant was asked to share their understanding.
  2. Exercise 2 : Each participant was asked to share the moment when they were proud of what they did.
  3. Exercise 3 : Participants were asked to make pairs, and tell each other a story from their life, and to extract their learning from the story.  Following steps were taken after the pairs had shared their stories with each other:

a)      One persons narrated  the story he/she had heard, and then share the lesson he/she drew from the story. After this, all the participants to share what they though were the lessons. A rich flow of lessons from the story took place. (because of shortage of time, every story could not be heard and only 1/3rd of participants could narrate the stories.

b)      Processing of the exercise . Participants asked to share what they made of the exercise, and what take home messages the exercise carried for them. (though the responses were not documented, it was noted that all the stories had ‘helping/serving others as the main theme, and that ‘helping others’ being sensitive to them was a common element.)  

  1. Meaning of SALT was presented, and some of its basic principles were shared through overhead slides.
  2. All participants were requested to write down their learning from the two hours, and all of them had something to say about humanity. (these statements are to be translated and summarized, and then returned to the participants) 

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When and where will this happen next in India? I am keen to go through SALT training in English. 

Here are some responses shared on email

Joma, Aizawl, India To me PRA is a tool to measure the outcome of SALT. However PRA  helps in successful implementation of SALT.

Indumathi Ravishankar, Chennai, India Agreed. PRA is a tool for appraisal. SALT is a way of working and be-ing. It's an embodied process. 
Jahirul, Assam, India SALT approach helps us mainly for sharing the views to both the side between the interviewer and the client and to transfer the learnings to others for their development. Whereas PRA approach helps us to incorporate the knowledge and to know about the opinions of rural people in the planning and management of their own problems/community problems.
Mike, Africa- Hello dear all.
 
After careful reading the contents of PRA, I really got a picture of an approach far different to SALT. It seems like some colours and the real taste of salt are missing in it.
 

These three added values below can clearly explain that :
 

1. It's testified that SALT brings members of the community, all together to "converge their strengths first". Therefore, they no longer think individually but, as one person, gathering all together in community for one cause.
 

2. From our way of appreciating the community's actions/efforts/strengths..., something incredible happens in their mind set. It's now kind of revolution on their way of seeing things. They forget the problems and focus on their strengths. Yet, they consider a big picture of a new community. Means, the community members build a vision of a better living place; which turns to a big DREAM. Even before self assessing themselves or thinking about to plan the actions, they already have a draw of a big vision.
 

3. Indeed, something is common in all these community participatory approaches. They seem all to evoke  the character of the "appropriation". Differently to others, the actions planned by communities are more sustainable with SALT. The experience in a few countries still proves it. 
In fact, after years the communities are still planning and acting naturally. Such a higher level of appropriation; all natural.
 

The more they are exposed to SALT, more they understand that it is not simply an approach to be used only to sort matters in community out, but a natural way of living responsibly life so far. 
We get competent through our way of seeing positively our community, considering our strengths and, acting naturally and continuously. 
 
In the other hand, 
- We bring communities to converge ‎their strengths;
‎- We bring them to more focus on their strengths;
- We make them understand ‎the quintessential to base the next steps on the DREAM. 
 
Many experience ‎from different communities can explain. We can refer to the RDCCompétence experience of several years. 
 
This was my small contribution.
 
 

I believe what Mike has said of SALT is also true for PRA when it is used with its ideology. any PRA tool used with a community group facilitates a dialogue among  the community. Out of the dialogue , as part of reflection and analysis, emerges options for action, where needed. 

Dear Dr Kausar,

I see  PRA and SALT as complimentary to each other. I have facilitated both.

SALT builds ownership in the community over the issue. I find that SALT brings a personal change in the facilitator. If SALT and CLC done before PRA, it can bring depth in the participatory element. then community will do PRA to collect data for their own use. Also PRA can help community take action based on evidence. They go hand in hand. I am currently using SALT and PRA tools in a IDS systemic participatory action research project. 

I would love to learn from your experience as now you have tried both. Warm greetings

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