“This one is to Kazan, a new star in the Constellation”, I hear myself saying. My fingers dip in a small wooden tin. With two fingertips I take a few grains, I put them in my mouth. The SALT is strong, pure and tasty. Then I pass the tin on to my new friend, Svetlana (the small), from Kazan – Russia. She is sitting next to me on a large table with smiling people.

The words come straight from my heart. It is our last evening in Kazan. In only three days we have gone a long way of deep learning with facilitators from the cities Moscou, Kazan and Samara. Beautiful people – both inside and outside.

During our time together we have been discussing and practising the basic values of the Constellation, the belief in Human Capacity to Respond and SALT as our way of working. “I feel relieved”, shared Alexis from Samara after the first day. “I now feel confident to work with the communities in my home town. Before I believed they had the strength to respond, but I also believed that they did not want to respond. Now I know that I just need to ask the right questions to stimulate the response”. Svetlana (the tall) from Kazan added: “We all have two ears and one mouth. That’s a nice proportion. We should learn to use them in the same proportion”.

On the second day the two Svetlana’s, facilitators from the city of Kazan, mobilized a wide range of about  40 representatives from their city: volunteers, doctors, housewives and representatives from Injection Drug Users and PLWHA networks. The discussion is full of passion when we discuss the dream for an AIDS Competent Kazan. It is clear: all want to find themselves back in this dream and the dream goes beyond AIDS. In an AIDS Competent Kazan nature is also being taken care of. At the end of the evening more than half of the people raise their hands to commit their involvement in the journey towards this dream. The two Svetlana’s received their first invitations for facilitation!

On the last day we are guests at the AIDS Centre and then we are invited for diner at the Rotary Club. The big question before the diner is how we can ask commitment from this group of young businessmen towards the Kazan dream. We decide to go with the flow, trusting on the power of human connections. After conversations in groups of 3 where we explore each others strengths, Ian shares a story: Back in 1991 he was in Ukraine where in a HIV/AIDS workshop with 300 docters where he promoted the Human Capacity to Respond. There he received from an old lady a small wooden tin, filled with…. SALT! The lady said that this would not only give taste to Ians work, but would also preserve it.

When he shows the tin at the dinner table in Kazan the President of the Rotary Club, Marat, asks him to pass it to him. I feel a shiver: Marat refills the tin with fresh SALT. How symbolic this is! Then he asks us to pass the tin, to say a good word and to taste a grain of the salt to preserve the good thing we just said. And one after another we announce our commitment to the local response, in Kazan, and for global learning.

Pass the SALT: a new practice in our Constellation?

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Comment by Dipendra on August 4, 2014 at 11:52pm

very motivational and inspirational act to perform...! Its really touching!

Comment by Ian Campbell on April 18, 2011 at 1:22pm

Thanks Marlou. Brilliantly 'felt'.

Just a small comment-the location for the SALT encounter on 1991 was St Ptersburg...perhaps adding to the significance of the Kazan encounter of 2011.

Some other reflections from participants:

'I gradually became aware that it is now time to become team-I am often in the limelight but now it is time to let others talk.'

'I remembered an early experience with a psychotherapist-I was being asked questions and I felt stronger. I was my own advisor.If we have questions we also have answers.'

'I am infected with optimism.'

Comment by Kolomiiets Snizhana on April 18, 2011 at 12:14pm




Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on April 17, 2011 at 8:48am

Dear Marlou,


Thanks for this blog which show deep reflections from the participants.

Alexis has mentioned a very integral component of SALT- stimulating the community. It set me thinking. Revealing comunity's strengths and encouraging community members to analyse together  can be challenging as a facilitator.During a SALT visit, if someone wants to talk about problems, can the facilitator brush it aside and say that we focus only on strengths.  But instead of asking them to elaborate on what is missing, I have tried to ask what is creating this gap between what they want and what they see. I continue to learn and reflect.




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