10 Tips I find usefull to facilitate a Knowledge Fair

   One month ago I had the chance to be involve in my first knowledge fair in DRC, with Blaise Sedoh, Papa Bongo, Jean Baby, Philippe and Leopaul!

We had one week to get prepared to this huge event! Supported by Phill Forth we realise that this would not be an easy part of the cycle.

As we know, sharing experiences is a great opportunity to learn. Learning to relate stories, learning to highlight the strengths of our story to make it relevant to the issue discussed. But it's also a way to learn about others, about my neighbor, his strengths and his competences. 

I must confess I was stressed about this. I undertood the issu is to facilitate communities to relate they own stories of change. As phil told us days before this event, for everyone this exercice is not easy!

When someone ask us to tell a story, we always first ask : What to say?

 With the communties is the same. Futhermore we may have heard those questions:  What need to be include into my story? Should I talk about me or my community? How my story can interest someonelse outside of my community? My story is simple: we where blind and now everything it's clear!

   Have you ever experienced this?

In our case we had the chance to be mentored by the master of Knowledge Fair, Phil Forth! He prepare us to face to those questions and difficulty about telling a 

story, about the Knowledge Fair concept and tools.  He tried to make sure we have all the tools we needed in our lagage to come back with a knowledge asset from Kalemie. And he did it really well! 

That why I wanted to share my experience of the Knowledge Fair facilitation and try to give you tips to get ready to that!

        1.   Be concsient that facilitate a story telling exercice is not easy work.

           I think it's because we knew from Phil experiences, it's an hard work, that we really did our best to get prepared for that.

      2.   With your team, take the time to build a commun understanding about all the concept used for this stage.

    Starting from Kinshasa, with Blaise and Papa Bongo, we brainstormed about those concept felt a bit daunting, and made the same with the complete team of coaches and support team in Kalemie.

 We build a common understanding about:

  - Knowledge asset  or "pearl";

  - Commun principal; 

  - Stories;

  - Experiences;

    It was really useful to do such exercice because we realised that everyone have an different understanding about these concepts and it makes us more confident to explain to the participants what we expected from that event.

3.   Take all the time you need to prepare this event with your team.

      I know we do not always have time to discuss during 1day long on concepts understanding, planning the day, the distribution of tasks and sharing responsibilities in terms of reporting. But if you can take this time (5 hours), it will be helpful for you to anticipate the unexpected in terms of time and others. This is also an opportunity to create a real team spirit, which will be useful during the fair itself.

   4.    Make a clear  list of shared responsibilities of coaches and support team.

    Even you don't respect it strictly, it will help you during the Knowledge fair itself, respecting time of activities, and as well for the report.

   5.   With all participants, start the day with a brainstorming to build a common understanding of all the concepts who will be use during the day.

    We realise that this exercice is needed to insure a good understanding about what we expect from this day. We ask the participants to say what those concept represent to them in French or  Swaili

   We had 5 flip-chart with 5 titles : Knowledge asset, commun principal, Stories, practices and map of transfert

   After all, we realise that it could be useful to ask communities to reflect on the words: problems, causes and actions undertaken by the community.

   For some participants it as been hard to understand the difference between the problems faced by the community and the causes of this problem. For example most of the time they wrote that the problem was the vaccination instead of the sickness.

     6.   Making small groups of 4 or 5 participants facilitate the exchange and the peer assistance to tell and write down the story.

      7.   Use examples to make sure that the undertaken action is  includ into they story.

      The hardest part of the storytelling is to stimulate the participants in order to insure that they highlight the undertaken action into they story.

     8.    Highlight the importance of the lesson from the story and make sure they add it to they story.

     9.    You may need to have every single story written down on separate sheet of paper to build the Knowledge Asset.

      Blaise had the wonderfull idea to give a sheet of paper to each participants asking them to "re-write" they story and on a separe paper the lesson they learn from this story.

    10. Enjoy to learn from communities actions!


    I hope you'll find those tips useful. When translated I'll share the stories from the communities. The communities from Kalemie were very inspiring, have a look on this following story:

                              "Let us be united and vaccinate our children!"

"In mycommunity of Kaoze, epidmemics were weakening our community and were often causing the the death of many of our children. The mothers did not take their children for their vaccinations and they did not follow the schedule of vaccinations.

When the SALT team came to our community, we were able to talk each other and we came to understand that vaccination was important but that some of the mothers did not want to go to the Health Centre for a variety of reasons. For example, somemothers feared that the vaccination could cause anaemia or even death. Othermothers were ashamed to go to the Health Centre because they did not have a pretty dress to wear. (In our culture, the husband is supposed to offer his wife a special dress after she had given birth to their child.)

When the community understood this, we organised ourselves to get information about vaccination (about the schedule and about its effects, for example.) And we also started to make regular contributions to deal with the issue of poverty among certain members of our community. As a result of this, the poorest new mothers receive a dress so that they can present themselves at the Health Centre without shame. In addition, I took it upon myself to accompany each mother to the Health Centre to make sure that all of the children were vaccinated.

Lesson: If the community provides information about the effects of vaccination to pregnant women, the mothers will not be afraid to have their children vaccintated.

If the community works to make sure that all young mothers have ‘a pretty pagne’, they will not be embarassed to visit the Health Centre."

 If you want to see more about this experience there is the link to see the pictures!

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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on December 6, 2013 at 6:44pm

Hi Laurie,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I wanted to learn more about your story, what did the SALT team do that women can share about this issue? Was this not happening earlier? You have shared the pre and post scenario and if you elaborate on the process it will help me as a facilitator. 



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