Connecting local responses around the world
There I was, together with Farellia, our coach from Madagascar. My first time Ghana. The challenge: facilitate a 4-day workshop on Food Security in West Africa with prominent church leaders and advocacy experts in the region. And we had to facilitate in English and French! The participants generally visit a lot of conferences, often dominated by Power Point shows and presenters that like to talk for hours. As the organizer, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance said in the opening session: This workshop will be quite different from what you are used to. And it was!
First, we had a SALT visit to a farmers irrigation project. As we were running late, Farellia explained to a full bus the SALT concept and how we could look for strengths instead of the problems. First impressions were good of this ‘SALT’ thing! The community felt incredibly proud to have visitors of so many countries that came to appreciate their work. Standing with my feet on the fertile lands of Ghana made me smile again. What a wonderful continent this is from which we can learn so much.
Then the next day, it was time to take stock of our experiences. We invited people to share their stories of change on Food Security in 3 minutes in small groups. Many faces were surprised? Why should we tell our stories? And why in 3 minutes? Won’t there be any Power Point? OK, they all sat down and shared their story. Then in small groups, they shared more stories of change. Participants listened deeply to each other’s rich experiences. Ranging from how Cameroon stopped the import of frozen chicken to allow local farming to flourish to a story of how a church leader cultivated his own organic vegetable garden to share afterwards with his congregation.
Participants analyzed in depth what was common in their experience and drew out common principles for action. Then 29 participants shared their own story on video. People were amazed by how much they know already. That was only the first day!
The next day, it was time for building our dream for a West Africa that is competent in dealing effectively with its food security concerns. A rich sharing that culminated in a common vision with 14 strategic areas that requires increased competence. It was time for self-assessment. After explaining the five levels of competence through the appropriate practice of ‘farming’, the five groups divided per region had to assess their own competence level. We all know that self-assessment exercise stimulates discussion, but this one surprised me once more. All groups were in loud, vibrant discussions and didn’t care about dinner time. Practices such as ‘mindful consumption and wastage’ and ‘gender within food security’ elicited a lot of reflection.
At 19.30, the groups finally went for dinner. Interesting to note is that the participants advocated at the hotel for local food as the first day we only ate imported food. The motto was ‘eat what you grow and grow what you eat’, so after discussions with management, we had local food the rest of the week!
The last day was dedicated to rooting food security in a theological framework, which provided the depth in content that many participants were eager to learn. From that inspiration combined with some concrete case study presentations, action planning was started based on the priority practices of each region. They came up with concrete advocacy action plans that the churches could engage in on both national and regional level. As we always see, the actions are creative, locally appropriate and teams take full ownership of them as they are generated step by step by themselves.
For Farellia and I another great experience where we met many friends and received many invitations for future collaboration. And yes, CLCP is also applicable to the issue of Food Security!
For the other photo's, see: http://aidscompetence.ning.com/photo/albums/eaa-workshop-ghana-clcp...