SALT echoed, though not planned

Kausar s Khan

 

BACKGROUND            

 

Three interactions, with groups of women and men,  had already taken place in the village which had only mud houses, and where men and women worked in the agriculture fields owned by some landlords. There were two schools, one for girls and one for boys. Enrolment was low, and children were malnourished. Fourth interaction was now to take place, and the external team had arrived after a 6 hours drive. In order to decide what village interaction was viable, a meeting was held in the morning with  the core groups ( about four men, and four women )  of the  village community.  Agenda for the village meeting  emerged from this  interaction (it slowly surfaced out of the discussions, though not all the team members had seen it. )

 

One member of the external team was familiar with the SALT approach, others were committed to the participatory approach and were deft at using PRA tools to facilitate analysis by community groups.

 The steps of stimulation and appreciation were in mind, and could be detected here and there during the interaction with the core groups. Members  of the core group appeared to be stimulated to do something, and this was because of the nature of questions that were being raised with them, and the listening being practiced by the team. Appreciation of community efforts gently permeated the discussion. The meeting lasted for about 2 hours, after which the Team left, with a promise to return at 7:00, the time given for the village meeting. During lunch, possible agenda for the meeting was proposed, and accepted by the team. The agenda being:

 

  1. Start the meeting with songs from the village singers. (this had been proposed during the meeting with the core groups)
  2. Ask the elders of the village to share their memories of the time when  there was more harmony in the village. ( a woman in the core group meeting had shared her memories)
  3. Village members (women and men) to develop their vision/dream of the village that they would like to see 10 years from now. This to become the basis of the village development plan.
  4. Volunteer groups to be formed to take forward different parts of the overall vision for the village.

 

Villagers had asked the team to come at 7:00 pm. The team arrived at 7-00, and chatai and rillis were being laid out in the open compound.  The layout would have accommodated  a small group (about 7- 8 villagers). A  villager said, ‘this is the time for preparing dinner…. So people will start coming in another 30 minutes’. The team quietly settled down on the floor, not sure how many would come, but soon women and men began to arrive…. Somebody ran off and brought out a very large spread for the floor, and it was quickly laid out, and men began to settle on one side of the ground, and women sat huddled on one side, with their backs to the men.. the team encouraged them to sit in a semi circle, and men were also coaxed into a semi circle, and soon a large baizvi circle was formed. Charpais were laid out around the section where women were seated, and soon all children (5 – 12 years old) were encouraged to occupy the charpais. The toddlers had a field day as a few (2 at any given time) ran up and down the center of the circle, but kept close to women.

 

At any given time, there were 100 or more villagers. They responded to the questions raised , and the facilitator deftly raised questions, summarized the points being made, and appreciated the thoughts and commitment demonstrated. Women were specially appreciated for their energy and commitment.

 

Permission had been taken from the gathering for audio  recording the proceedings , and a digital recorder was kept in the middle of the community sitting in a circle. It attracted special attention of a toddler pacing up and down, as he would proceed to step on it as he went past it.

 

VISION OF VILLAGE 10 YEARS FROM NOW

 

Women and men were asked to discuss their dream amongst themselves, and then share it with the larger group. Following are pieces of dream that were mentioned:

 

  1. Water would be available to every household
  2. There will be electricity for longer durations.
  3. There will be toilets and a sanitation system
  4. All children will be in school
  5. Every household will have goats and hen (murghi) (a 11 year old girl’s dream)
  6. Everybody would have a home (an elderly woman said)
  7. Play ground for the youth
  8. Reclaim land taken over by land grabber
  9. Autaq for the village.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men and women volunteered to work on one or more issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCUSSION

 

It was interesting to note that SALT approach echoed even though it was not formally introduced to the Team.

 

#

SALT Approach

Village Interaction

1

S -- Stimulate

Community , it appeared , was stimulated by the folks songs that were sung to commence the village meeting. (people clapped at the end of the song, and one man showered money on the singers (a traditional act)

Stories of harmony narrated by the elders.

Opportunities for the community members to express their views freely

2

A -- Appreciate

The external team appreciated the active participation of women and men, their enthusiasm, and their commitment for the development of their village. Skepticism and difficult tasks ahead  as expressed by some members were also acknowledged, and need for collective action re-enforced.

3

L – Learning

At the end of the village meeting , everybody was asked to give feedback on the event, and what they learnt from it.

The Team while driving back from the village systematically shared their learning from the event.

4

T – Transfer.

This is to be further explored

 

It seems children are kept away from school, because they are needed to either work in the field or look after infants in the home. These women experience a majbooiri that thwart children’s education. This majboori  needs to be discussed to find ways of overcoming it

 

Following discussion with mothers experiencing majbooir is proposed:

  1. Ask mothers to discuss what children need to do when parents are working in the field.
  2. If need for infant/child care is identified, discuss the possibility of having a day care center in the village. This could be a common space where children could be left, and a woman takes the responsibility of taking care of the children and also feeding them . She would be trained by Team on shat food she could give to the children.  Cost for this to be included in the development plan.

 

SOME QUESTIONS FOR SALT APPROACH

 

  1. What is SALT experience of ways to stimulate communities.  I think PRA and other participatory ways stimulates communities.  Something more is needed, I think
  2. What ways of appreciation have been documented in SALT ?

 

 

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