I belong to a strong community in Chiang Mai. My group of friends support and care for each other and the community tries sincerely to accept everybody. New people are given a warm welcome which causes many people to stay in Chiang Mai for much longer than they plan. They simply feel at home after they join our community. The welcome is characterized by a sincere acceptance of who you are and creating an environment to share and learn.
One of my best friends here is Gaura from Russia, a yoga teacher that only knows how to share from the heart. That's what he has been doing for the last 10 years. I think he doesn't even know how to share from only his mind. Two weeks ago he suddenly heard his father committed suicide in Russia. He hadn't seen him for 5 years. Gaura was shocked. An incredible challenge for the strong community. Quickly the word spread and we organized a gathering together. We all came together and listened. We simply were there for him. We all put in money from our own resources to pay for his flight, gave him our favorite sweaters and warm clothes, but most of all we supported him and truly cared. Gaura was deeply touched and left for Russia the day after. He took our care and support with him in the plane and will transfer this to his family in Russia......
That night Gaura flew back 'home', I contemplated the Competence of my community. I was reflecting on our self-assessment. My view is that we took actions that show we are strong on inclusion (practice 2), learning and transfer (practice 7), ways of working (practice 9) and mobilizing resources (practice 10). The challenge we faced brought out the true strengths of my community and only made us stronger. We took action from strengths to address our concerns. I once again realize I am exactly the same human being belonging to a community with life challenges than the community people I am going to visit next week in Papua New Guinea. I know already that I will share the story of Gaura :)
Today I was writing the quarterly progress report for our process in Papua New Guinea. As many of you working in the development sector might have experienced, proposal and report writing can sometimes be an exhaustive job. I spend most of my day today trying to phrase in a report what has happened in settlements in PNG. Not an easy job. I felt my energy level going down and I became bored with it. Then I decided to add the pictures to the report. Suddenly I could see the faces of reflection in Kesi, the smiles of the young women in Genoka, the determination of the young men in Walis Station and the pride of the people of Tent City. This is why I am doing this job! This is why I am writing proposals and reports. The personal transformation of Kasure alone is sufficient to keep me going (see his video in the July Newsletter http://www.aidscompetence.org/content/news/news_july_2008/4_news_july2008.htm ). And before I know the report is finished and I leave the office with a smile :)