Connecting local responses around the world
For a practitioner of SALT and CLCP, our work does not finish with facilitating action plan, accompaniment of the community in taking action is critical. This is my learning in our Assam project in India where we are stimulating community response to immunization, WASH and nutrition.
In Hirajani community, water supply is a major issue and the community is getting frustrated as in spite of a lot of effort and applications to the government they have not been able to procure water supply for their village.
Time line of the village
Oct : Dream building and self assessment and action planning
Dec 2017- Self-assessment with the help of champion. The community said that their level is 4 from 3 because now in their village there is no drop out case but not in level 5 because yet they need reminder on immunization schedule.
We visited the community on 20th June 2018 to support them in the actions they are taking. The facilitator of this village said that we need to strengthen the bond in the community. A recent disagreement amongst themselves had sent away the officials who had come to install the water supply.
When I reflect back after this SALT visit, two factors helped us in stimulating the community.
Appreciation and listening- Rather on focusing on the water problem we began by asking an appreciative question. What are the good things you have been doing together?
They said that through our village dream we realized that immunization is very important for the health of our children.
Three women confidently shared that every week they visit homes and inform mothers about immunization. It was interesting that two of these women have older children, not in immunization bracket. They said that they do this because they care for the children of the village. The third amongst them is Rubina, whose child is receiving immunization. Rubina said that she was taking her child for immunization but did not know for what the immunization was being given. She says now after she has realized the importance of immunization for her child, she wants to motivate other mothers. If people understand the reason for immunization, they will not miss any dose she says with a smile. Few of the villagers used to not come for immunization but they have started coming for immunization.
What are men proud of we asked them. When the mother is not able to go sometimes men folk also take their children for immunization added the men. Community members discuss about benefits of immunization with other people in the village.
Sharing our experiences created space for more sharing and action-
From our team we shared examples of community action in our areas. An active member of a village in Bongaigaon (Assam) was with us. He shared the story of how they have made water filters and addressed dropouts in immunization. When he showed the pictures of his village actions on his phone, villagers of Hirajani said that they too had done this. Then they shared that after action plan most people in the village have begun to use home made filters for water purification. Cases of diarrohea have reduced noted the people in the meeting. A young woman said that her son does not fall sick so often now. But recently when she went to stay with her mother, her son fell sick twice. In the next visit, she will urge her mother to use water filter. Muzzahar Ali in his late sixties in this conversation cautioned the village that filter is not enough. The villagers need to boil the filtered water. He said that he will take the responsibility of talking to other people in the village and convince them to boil water. Another man in red shirt suggested that villagers can use Halogen tablet for water purification when the water gets infected during floods. Government provides these tablets in a camp, which is held near the village. A young man, Mustafa, says he is young and will get the tablets and distribute amongst the villagers.
Response of the Hirajani community --At the end of the meeting villagers said that it was valuable to sit together and discuss their concerns. The meeting reminded them that they have not been ignoring their challenges. They have been successful in some. “Water supply remains are biggest problem. We have worked towards it but in ones or twos. Today through our collective discussion I have realized that we can deal with water problem by coming together. Unity has power”, concluded a young woman. Water supply is a main issue in the village and they have submitted an application to the government officials and approached them several times but with no success so far. They are hopeful within 2-3 months after the monsoon season is over they will get the supply.
Conclusion: Appreciation, deep listening and sharing our experiences is what we did as facilitators. We had a community member from another district with us. His sharing was particular significant in stimulating the people from Hirajan. Through this interaction, the village people realized that they had been taking many actions, it is not they had done nothing. This also reminded them that when they come together, many things are possible in the future.
Date: 20th June 2018
Translation: Manik Bora and Jahirul