A community conversation in Majpara, Assam, India. With 38 degrees and 98 percent humidity in the air we have come together in the nursery of this village. The heat is almost unbearable and all our faces, hair and clothes are wet. We look at each other and laugh. "If you can hold on, so can I", we seem to think. The conversations give the energy.
New facilitators are finding their way in asking encouraging authentic questions and lead a conversation where everybody's voice will be heard.
Around 20 women, children, men and older persons come together and explore how the future could look like for healthy children in their village. They envision a clean village where not only children but all generations will be in good health, where the village will have its own health facilities, school and a playground, where all children will be fully immunised, where men and women take shared responsibility for their child's health, where every family grows their fresh and nutritious food.
"And now m'am, what will your NGO do to make our dream come true?" Asks a 40 year old community leader who was introduced to me earlier as an activist. I hope my answer will not be too disappointing: "We will be standing alongside, we will be learning with you. But we have not come with money, we will not build your health center, we will not clean your streets. But tell me, what can YOU do to make your dreams come true?"
First some puzzlement, then hesitant ideas start sprouting. 'I can throw candy papers in the dustbin and tell my friends to do the same" says the 9 year old son of the same leader. An illiterate older woman who knows that some villagers are not complying with the immunisation scheme wonders how she could encourage them. The group discussed how they can engage other villagers who are not in the room today in their actions for better health.
Am I witnessing here the first small signs of ownership?
A 50 year old woman in a next village concluded this sense of bringing ownership where it belongs in her own words: "Look, those people, they have travelled all the way, just to help us discover ourselves".