Society may regard the trans-gender, sex workers, men having sex with men as outcast but a group of 28, recently had the privilege to visit these communities, have unearthed gems and many were touched and transformed in the process.  “Respect, resilience, resourceful, honor, sacrifice for common good of others” is strength we identified at the recent International Salt Visits at Yogyakarta.   


We would never think we could learn so much by simply being present to them, listening, appreciating, understanding their struggles.  Before we set off for the visits, the team was introduced to the “Are we Human” exercise, to reflect the meaning of being human to one another.  This simple, yet powerful exercise has set the tone for the entire SALT visits and we were reminded to “do to others what you would like others do to you”, without social status dividing us.


Being raised in a meritocracy society, many will acknowledge that the educated are consider “better” human persons than those least educated and as such, they are more capable in many aspects - work and personal life.  As a community worker, I am often seen as an professional service provider, providing solutions to family problems.  I struggle with the question often asked by families “What can you do for me?” as I don’t always have any solution for them.   


Being personally present to witness how the community has transformed during the first few SALT visits in Singapore and in Yogyakarta, I found renewed passion and energy to apply what I’ve learned in my work.   At the recent meetings with the community in Singapore, we did the Human exercise and was rewarded with good responses.   Everyone respected and appreciated one another’s strength, and slowly the discussion was directed at how they could use their strength to support the community.  This is a paradigm shift for these service users and myself as we failed to see the strength.   I am truly humbled by the encounters and I am excited to see the end results, trusting and believing that “every community has the capacity and resources to resolve their own problems”.

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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on April 5, 2012 at 12:56pm

Hi Maizy,


Thanks for this powerful sharing. Which kinds of communities are you doing SALT visits with?

Easter greetings from Delhi!


Warm regards,


Comment by Maizy Tan on April 5, 2012 at 12:49pm

Hi JL & Ricardo,

Thank you for leaving your comment on my blog.

To answer Ricardo's questions, we started SALT visits only in Jul 2011 with 2 communities. We have todate done visits and currently are in the dream building/implementation stage.

What has changed is people's outlook in life. They now recognise that they have strength and are now using these strength to help others.  As such, the community has become more inclusive and caring.

We apply the "Are you Human" exercise whenever the members are new to one another. This remind the members within the group to actively listen and respect one another's views, without giving any criticism/comments.  Thus, it help to encourage new members to share/contribute their views.  

We are now applying SALT visits with many new communities and we really hope that the communties are able to come together to solve their own challenges :-)  This is all our hope for the community, isn't?

May you have a blessed, happy Easter weekend.


Comment by Ricardo Walters on March 9, 2012 at 4:02pm

Hi Maizy,

Hi from South Africa.  Thanks for your blog-post, and those very personal reflections on your own experience.  I could identify with many of the feelings you describe.

Your last paragraph prompted some questions in me;  I'd love to understand more:

  • How many SALT visits had taken place in those same communities, and over what timeframe?
  • You talk about witnessing how the community had transformed.  Can you tell us more about that transformation?  What had changed?
  • During the community meetings, community members appreciated one another's strengths.  How is that respect - expressed during the community meetings - demonstrated in the practises/behaviours of the community in between these gatherings?

I suspect that your experience could help us all understand a lot more of the subtleties of our process, and how its impact is felt and seen in the communities we accompany.

Have a great weekend,


Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on March 9, 2012 at 1:06pm


I am immensely grateful for your blog.

Thanks to your relflections and clear writing the inspiration from Yogya will stay with me for at least this day and over the weekend.

Merci beaucoup



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