First SALT visit to New Harijan Colony in Peroor Village, near Ettumanoor Town, Kerala, India.



4 July 2017: Ajinlal Joseph parked the vehicle in a corner of the shuttle badminton court in what he said was called New Harijan Colony in Peroor Village hardly a couple of kilometers from Ettumanoor Town. The badminton court had on its four sides a spacious Community Hall,  a large Banyan tree with small idols forming a temple, a large concrete stage, a couple of houses, and the approach road. While waiting for the residents to come to the Hall. Ajinlal explains that the suicide of a school girl from this colony by jumping in front of a running train gave Archana Women's Center an opportunity to work with the children and women of Peroor Village.

Earlier, the staff of Archana in their "Taste of SALT" workshop had expressed their fear that the SALT approach would not work in the communities served by Archana Women's Center as these communities had been financially supported for about two decades. So, Ajinlal, Jismi, and Asha would be observers to see what were the reactions of the residents to the replacement of their earlier financially supported programs and accomplishing their present dreams by a strength-based approach like SALT using the community's own resources to achieve their collective vision.
 
Soon Jismi and Asha who are from Archana return from the houses with a dozen women residents and a couple of men. The SALT visit begins with a round of introductions wherein to experience the equality of all of us in the hall we only state our name and place of birth.

Next, while sharing to others their strengths, it is becoming evident that the residents are enjoying this part, as a couple of them expand on to what they have achieved in their lives! The diverse list of strengths includes self-confidence, tailoring, cooking, walking long distances or trekking, marriage bureau counseling, singing, drawing, arts, general counseling, community social work, washing, laundry, ironing, rubber tapping, coolie, agricultural labor, and railway gangman's work. 

Subsequently, evolving to sharing dreams, we were constrained by the lack of time. Accoridngly, the four dreams shared were: establishing the world's best orphanage, making their child the highest ranking police officer, becoming the best social worker, and to remain independent with an ability to do all normal activities by their own selves till death. This last dream was voiced by all three senior residents who were present.

Finally, in our brief "After Experience Review", the residents suggest Sunday weekly SALT visits, which is altered to the first Saturday of next month namely 5 Aug 2017.three-member Archana team is ready to jointly facilitate the next meeting, but they would like me to be an observer and plan with me their facilitation before the SALT visit. Furthermore, as community members would like to have a permanent record of their group dreams, we would have chart paper for groups to record their collective dreams, in the next SALT visit.  

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Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on Sunday

Good to see that you Popson Antony is interested. As you have desired, I must inform you that our next SALT Visit to the same community would most probably be on Sunday the 6 August maybe starting around 2 PM. Once Ajin has confirmed with the key people in the community, I will let you know. 

Comment by Popson Antony on July 18, 2017 at 7:39pm

I am very glad t hear SALT is spreading in Kerala. Also ready to visit the place when time permits Dr E Mohammed Rafique good intervention. What is the current situation ?

Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on July 5, 2017 at 10:39pm

Yes. Rituu, We thought of SALT home visits, but the constraints of space for a large number that will be expected in the next meetings. Moreover, introducing the concept of self assessment after the individual and group dream session, made the team opt for the spacious community hall than the smaller rooms in the homes.

There were reflections and comments from the team and residents as well. Some of them are:
"If we do not dream, we will never even start on our path to achievement or progress!"
"If we plan to start earlier than probably we will start on time"
"We have worked as a group before and built this hall and other buildings. It cost us only 1.5 lakhs for such a concrete roofed spacious hall, about ten years ago."
"When you come again for the next SALT visit we will bring all our family members."
"We will also bring the youth of the village, and this will help us achieve much more"
"We will have a short entertainment after the next meeting, as we have some among us who can sing and dance well."

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on July 5, 2017 at 9:58pm

What a vivid description Rafique! What were the reflections from the Archana team post the meeting? Have you thought of doing SALT home visits? 

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