Connecting local responses around the world
Chapter 1: AIDS Competence should spread faster than the virus.
In 1997-1998, Jean-Louis spent 18 months in Phayao, a province in northern Thailand. In a few short sentences, here is what he learned.
“It is necessary to provide services to prevent AIDS, to care for it, and to reduce its impact, but these services are not sufficient. The key resides in the actions of individuals, of families, and of communities in responding to the scourge. AIDS Competence means communities use their own abilities to overcome the epidemic.”
In the very early days of the Constellation, the question became how to apply the principle of AIDS Competence in practice.
“We gradually united around a fundamental principle: appreciation of our own strengths and the strengths of others. In our interaction with communities, we would not analyse deficiencies and needs simply so that we could come up with solutions. Rather, through our dialogue, communities would become aware of their own strengths, and as a result, they’d learn to use them to respond to their own issues. They would generate their own vision of success, identify practices that would enable them to achieve their vision, analyse their situation, take action, assess their own progress, adapt actions, and share their experiences with others. We call the combination of this process of systematic learning from action the community life competence approach.”
For me, the key phrase in this extract from the book is ‘systematic learning from action'. There is no suggestion here that the Constellation is offering a magic solution to life's problems. We offer an approach that is not conceptually difficult or complicated. It is built up from a series of simple steps. But those simple steps have to be applied consistently and persistently.
If this sounds a little daunting, the silver lining that the Constellation offers is SALT. As we come to appreciate our own strengths, we discover that each of us has within ourselves the capacity to make progress. Here we have the basis of a virtual circle that allows us to continue to make progress in the face of the inevitable disappointments and challenges that will come our way on the journey to Life Competence.
For more on 'What makes us human?' go to https://what-makes-us-human.com/