Yesterday I conducted my first SALTY activity. Well, technically I didn't conduct it because I don't have the language skills. I shared the idea with my field team member Krishna and she conducted the session. My colleague Balaram and I brainstormed to design the session.

Having just completed my SALT facilitator training, this was a momentous occasion for me. But despite the training, I was unsure of how to go about conducting a SALT session in real time. So, I scoured through this site for ideas and I have to thank you all for posting on this site. It is truly a treasure trove of information. 

The Setting - A tribal community where the NGO I work with is building permanent shelters for families who lost their homes in the recent Kerala floods. 

The Audience - Youth of the community. It was mostly girls and a few boys.

The Purpose - To develop a program to build community resiliency in a post-disaster scenario. After much deliberations, we have decided to work with the youth of a few flood-affected communities. We will learn and develop the program as we go along but for now, we will work with the youth and help them become change agents of their communities.

The Activity - We started with an ice breaker activity where the groups needed to help each other to complete the task. To identify that thing which connects us all - we talked about times when we had helped somebody. Next, we talked about what help their community needed; and if and how they could help; and if not, what were the challenges. 

The AER - We shared what we liked about the activity and how we could do better next time. I shared that I appreciated their enthusiasm and engagement. Most of the youth liked brainstorming on their community needs, while some enjoyed learning about how each of them had helped someone. The boys said that they would share their experience with their friends and will bring more of their friends to attend the next time. Everyone loved the activity and commented that this was the first time they had been asked to share their thoughts about their community. 

As for me, I am pleased with my first experience of conducting a SALTY activity. I always had my doubts about how to conduct a dream building exercise, but now I can see the process unfold and I am looking forward to the next time with this group. In Kerala, my biggest challenge is the language barrier. But I am pleased that I have been able to gather a team that appreciates the fundamentals of SALT and recognizes its value. 

Next steps - We will conduct similar activities in 7 other communities; identify community mobilizers and youth leaders and use the SALT framework to see where we get 6 months from now. 

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Comment by Bono Sen on April 25, 2019 at 6:05pm

Folks - Had another session today. Not sure how SALTY or not it was, but it served its purpose - getting the community engaged and looking forward to our next visit. 

AER - Activities seem to be what our communities like. Last time it was kids; this time even a grandmother told us that the activities were her favorite part. And they even volunteered to come up with a list of their traditional activities for next time. 
Boys were MIA as expected. But one of the girl's said she will make sure that they come next time. What we can do better next time - they wanted to focus on a specific issue. We will identify their priority issue through the dream building activity and then work on it. 

It was hard to get them to open up; it is natural. But by the end of our session, I am pretty confident, that they will be more chatty next time. One of the girl's said she wants to build her confidence to speak in public - we are excited as our activities are geared to do just that - give voice to the voiceless. 

Two more sessions this week with two more communities; then the team will sit down and plan the next sessions wherein we will begin the CLCP process. 

Comment by Autry Haynes on April 25, 2019 at 3:04pm

Thanks for update .... about to engage an indigenous community and I appreciate your sharing this experience am getting ideas .... of course i reciprocate by shares then and give credit  ..... thanks to other contributors as well Birgitta and Rituu .... ask me inspiring questions as well (^_^)

Comment by Bono Sen on April 25, 2019 at 2:11pm

Birgitta - You should look up Photovoice. It is an established tool for participatory engagement. Even though it was used for the first time in a research study, its most famous use is in the movie - Born into Brothels. Check it out. 

Ritu - Don't plan on doing anything different today. I believe the activities should work universally. And keeping it similar will help us assess what if anything we need to do differently. But for this first meeting, we will let the community guide us.  

Comment by Birgitta Schomaker on April 25, 2019 at 2:03pm

What I like about the questions, is that they are universal: everybody has an experience of helping and being helped. Rank is an important aspect in giving and receiving help, the person providing help often having higher rank (socioeconomic status, education etc). Being on the receiving end can amplify feelings of disempowerment or as an attack to ones dignity. To have a dialogue on giving and receiving help can be revealing and powerful. I am curious to hear more!

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on April 25, 2019 at 2:03pm

Bono, what will you do differently than last time? Thanks

Comment by Bono Sen on April 25, 2019 at 1:58pm

Thanks Birgitta. Repeating the same activity in our second community today. It will be interesting. Though both communities are tribal, today's community is more backward in terms of socioeconomic status. So it will be interesting to see how the community responds to our engagement activities. 

Comment by Birgitta Schomaker on April 25, 2019 at 1:57pm

As to your follow-up activities: photovoice and a community wall.

"Photovoice - where we will use photos taken by the youth to share their concerns with district officials at a public exhibition of photos."

I never heard of 'photovoice', what a creative way to engage the youth!  Image speak so much louder than words. And I can see how conversations can evolve from the photos.

Comment by Birgitta Schomaker on April 25, 2019 at 1:54pm

I love the activity you chose, the ice breaker activity where the groups needed to help each other to complete the task. "To identify that thing which connects us all - we talked about times when we had helped somebody. Next, we talked about what help their community needed; and if and how they could help; and if not, what were the challenges."  What a great way to flow from getting to know one another to a meaningful conversation about the heart of the matter.  What I also like about your questions, is that you give ownership to the youth by asking how they could help. 

Comment by Bono Sen on April 16, 2019 at 3:17pm

Thanks, Autry for your words of encouragement.  
Yes, will share upcoming activities. Quite excited about the possibilities. 

Comment by Autry Haynes on April 15, 2019 at 8:09pm

 A brave but positive start Bono. Kudos on the outcome. Looking forward to the continued posting because I am inspired by this post (^_^)

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