I wish to share with facilitators and communities around the world about the incredible strengths of the people in Siem Reap province, Cambodia. This week I have had the privilege of accompanying a new facilitation team through a process of “Visioning” in 3 villages – Santey (a farming village), Muk Wat (a fishing village on the banks of the Tonle Sap, houses raised on stilts above the water) and Peam Ta Ou (a floating village, pictured below).

Visioning is a 4 day-long process, where each village conducts Dream-Building, Self-Assessment, Resource and Stakeholder Mapping, Action Planning and finishes with a big celebration. The process is facilitated by 2 newly-trained community facilitators who are residents of the village. These facilitators are accompanied by newly trained local NGO staff, staff from World Fish Centre and Constellation coaches, Dusit and I.  After each activity we hold an AAR – reflecting and learning together. Throughout the week, the facilitation team conduct SALT visits to different homes, families and people going about their daily lives. We will do this four times over (a total of 4 weeks in 12 villages). It’s a wonderful and exciting challenge!

Today is day 3 of week 1. Each village have now completed their self-assessment, and the facilitation teams are preparing for Action Planning tomorrow. I wish to share with you 3 stories from these very intense, very incredible first 3 days.

Now, when I say “newly trained” facilitators, I am not exaggerating! Only a week ago we held a first  5-day learning event for 47 facilitators, including representatives from 12 villages, 9 local organisations, local government, and almost all of the World Fish team working on the programme! With such a big group, I really did wonder whether we’d had time to successfully transfer all the steps of CLCP and the SALT way of working to so many people. Luckily, we had assistance from Thuom Nary, who is a native Khmer speaker with years of experience facilitating CLCP in her own organisation. Nevertheless, all those steps and an entirely new way of working – it’s a lot to learn for anyone. So no surprise I was a bit concerned as to whether they’d be able to cope this week during visioning.

Well, here are 3 reasons why I was totally wrong!

  1. Meet Sambo (pictured below, middle). He comes from Muk Wat village (the one on stilts over the water). Sambo was also concerned about whether he’d cope. He felt that he needed lots more practice before facilitating the Visioning process in his own village. So what did he do? As a teacher, he did the obvious thing and took it to the classroom! Step by step he took an entire Grade 5 class through SALT visits, Dream-building, Self-Assessment, and Action Planning and even practiced some games! What initiative! And it really paid off. Sambo’s confidence and competence as a facilitator is second-to-none. The “support team” of NGOs and World Fish staff just sat back, watched and learned from him. A true Constellation star!
  2. Then there was Kum Laen, who comes from the floating village called Peam Ta Our, and is 24 years old. Kum Laen has attended a few trainings with NGOs before but used to keep very quiet. She only completed grade 6 and has always felt intimidated by others by those she perceived to have higher status or more knowledge than her. In previous trainings she didn’t speak, and never felt her opinion mattered. But today, she facilitated Self-Assessment with a group of 14 older men and women. She oozed confidence and calmness and had a wonderful control of the atmosphere. I asked her where she got her confidence from. She said: “at the training, I learned that our status is not important, and that we are all human, we all have strengths. I felt more confident to share, and more appreciated. Also, we were talking about things to do with my village, and I know about this. So I felt I could be more active.”
  3. Finally, there was Vancan and Rattana. Vancan comes from a local Cambodian NGO called HURREDO, and Rattana represents an organisation called TCO. They knew that they, and their colleagues, would be responsible for accompanying these new facilitators during the visioning process, and also having to capture and document the richness of each discussion held in the communities. But the problem was that their director and their colleagues, who’d be joining the visioning, had not attended the training. What did they do? They joined forces and held their own training! Together, on the Monday immediately following the learning event, they transferred the approach to more people. And what was the impact? A team of supportive, SALTy and knowledgeable facilitators who came with the mindset of appreciating, supporting and learning from one another.

I love being wrong. It means I have learned something. I learned this week that people take initiative when they believe in something and feel that their role is important. I learned that people gain confidence when feel they are valued. I was reminded that practice makes perfect, and sharing with others is a great way to improve our own skills. I learned that teams are far stronger than individuals alone. I am so inspired by what I saw in the last 3 days. So just imagine – this is only the beginning!

 

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Comment by wiwin winarni on September 5, 2013 at 8:39am

Dear Olivia;

Thanks for this sharing and really like your words on" I love being wrong that means we can learn something. this resonates my similar experience when I wrongly perceived facilitation as only facilitation when then i realized i learned nothing. Being wrong is part of being human. 

thanks also for sharing stories that make me feel as if I was there with you and Dusit.

Love from Bandung Indonesia

wiwin

Comment by Usa Duongsaa on September 5, 2013 at 12:51am

Great blog and pics, Olivia.  I'm really impressed with both the initiatives taken by the Cambodian facilitators and with your way of telling the story.  Very inspiring!

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