Call of the Caribbean: Part II: The SALT Visits and the Self Assessment Framework

(This blog must be updated with all your corrections, as the vagaries of time are fast eroding its veracity. Please comment, and suggest your corrections to which we look forward and thank you in advance.)

Neither Doncil’s birthday party which ended at the early morning hour of 3:30 AM, nor the steady drizzle could dampen the spirit for the SALT visit. Instead, eagerly, and almost as meticulously as we planned we started for the Family Planning Association Building, on Oxford Street, in Post of Spain.  However some of the participants who arrived directly were delayed and wet on arrival. Soon, everyone was seated in one big circle, and the SALT visit meeting rolled out as had been planned.  The intro session with the fruit, where I became an olive which took up the hard-to-find water from the arid rocky deserts around the Mediterranean, signified the experiences of the communities. I continued that from these experiences, the olive synthesized the fruits of knowledge, which when pressed gave us olive oil, which we could also use to enlighten our way in life, just as the olive oil lights the lamps for the night.


Strengths at FPA:

Next was the strengths session, eliciting them from the pictures as seen by the various groups, into which the floor was divided by the facilitator, prior to the start of the exercise. The Strengths collated from the two sessions were:

Participation, Free Will,  Team Spirit, discipline, Camaraderie, purpose driven, self confidence, boldness, appreciation of culture, diversity, creativity, Icons, Commonality of purpose, bond, unity of family-life, support, cooperation, security, commitment, dedication, empowerment, special skills, control.


To Use or Not to Use:

Following this there was an extempore Question and Answer session where members of FPA wanted to know more about the Competence Process. They were wary of introducing the Competence Process in their communities which they felt were distant, and hard-to-reach. However, after the facilitators had highlighted the philosophy and resonance behind the “Are we Human” session, and therefore its importance for every SALT visit in any Community, the confidence with the approach grew and the FPA members promised to use the Competence process in their diverse communities, and geographic areas.

Having thus given the members of FPA their first taste of the Competence Process, the floor gave an ACP clap to everyone, thanked the facilitators, and broke up to enjoy the ample repast stocked and stacked high on long tables along the whole length of the room.


AAR of the FPA SALT Visit:

We returned to the Hotel Normandie, and had an early lunch. The AAR of the SALT Visit was done immediately after. Its salient points are:
1) Some members who arrived directly at the venue were late. Hence we started late, and we finished fifteen minutes late.

2) Team 1 and 2 completed, Team 3 did not take part, Team 4 completed,

3) Identify a facilitate committee, improved communication; There was a perception of who was to take Leadership;  Good effort,  Room for improvement, Human Resource Management, Terminal Management, AAR at the end of each session, Need for the team to meet before the session. ; Facilitator should not take part in the actual session, Have back up plans, Introductions at the beginning; have informed discussions,

4) Use Hand out, Need to do ground rules, need to know your audience, clear understanding of the “Are we Human” approach.


From the Self Assessment Framework to Action Plan

Autry then coaxed the participants to complete all the levels of Self Assessment Framework, reminding them that only then could they proceed to the action plan for four of the priority activities that they chose. The Action plan was to be presented the next day to the Government represented by the Honorable Minister from the Prime Minister’s Office. Thus after Lunch and well into the morning of the next and final day, the four groups worked on their respective activity areas delineating and articulating the different competency levels, and then forming  an action plan for the particular activity based on the previous days self assessment level of where they were and how to move from that point in the River Diagram to Level five.


SALT Visit to CARe

As the evening came on, some member s of the group then went on a SALT visit to the local NGO Community Action Resource (CARe). After a short drive up a hillside which offered a panoramic view of the entire Port of Spain, the harbor, and the Caribbean Sea, we were at CARe. There, after introducing ourselves in association with a fruit, it was inspiring to go through the “Are we Human?” routine.  I had said ‘Inspiring’, because it was the longest and most comprehensive list of human qualities that I have seen enumerated in the shortest time that was made available to that small group.  


Strengths  at CARe:

Then the facilitators passed on to the final session on Strengths.  The various adjectives and words used to describe the strengths the participants saw were enumerated as:

Friendship, Cooperation, pleasure, Joy, happiness, Joyfulness, uniqueness, unity, togetherness,, Joy of being fruitful, protectiveness, strong minded, strength of bearing pain, self sacrifice, hope, peace, self sacrifice;

The feedback from this group at CARe was heart-warming, as they saw in it great potential and relevancy to the challenges they face in living with the virus.  We returned by lit up highways, echoing the zooming sounds of speeding vehicles,  as night drew its dark shades across the island.


The Action Plans

The next morning the weather was fine and sunny both outside and inside for many. As we waited for the stragglers to join Autry showed all the video clips and photographs of the learning event at Guyana.

Everyone had the day before agreed that the practice of Wow or Ways of Working was the keystone of all the ten practices in the Self Assessment Framework.  Therefore the groups worked on delineating the levels of competence for this particular practice, which they presented later as:

WOW Levels of Competence

Level 1- Aware

What we have:

HIV Coordinators, in all ministries: Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Sport, National Security, Health + People, Social Dev Two

Human rights desk external agencies, UNAIDS, PAHO, PANCAP, CHAA

Civil Society FBO, CBO, NGO

Private Sector: National HIV Workplace Policy, approved March 2008, Tripartite Stake holders ILO, Government, Private Sector.

What we do not have:

A functioning national coordinating unit

Lack of proper networking system among civil society

Lack of monitoring and evaluation

National Policy for HIV

Level 2: React

Conduct Mapping exercises in Key sector ministries, eg situational analysis, KABP surveys

Identify human financial and technical resources,


Level 3: Action

Review and update a directory of relevant NGO by HIV coordinators

Review of all indexs developed in the past and update such

Develop a mobilization strategy

Level 4: Continuous Action

Prepare a comprehensive HIV program to address worked AIDS day, Community Action Day(CAD),

Continuous assessment of programs


Meanwhile the group that called themselves, “The League of Extraordinary savers”, came up with their Action Plan for the practice titled, “Identification of Vulnerabilities”. This was:

The League of Extraordinary savers: Action Plan for “Identification of Vulnerabilities”

1)      Law Reform: Lobby to ensure that laws proposed for reform come to pass. Time frame 6 months civil society

2)      Equal opportunity bill: Advocate the passing of the bill specifically clauses geared towards HIB, PLHIV community

3)      Advocacy: A group whose purpose is to respond to national or community concerns that are taboo.

4)      Networking and sensitization: Identify an build relationships with key social agencies, comm. Dev, social dev, MSYA, NADAP, Gender, affairs, National security,


Ning, CAD, and Blended Learning:

Michael demonstrated the ACP Ning website, and the Blended Learning Program. There was a lukewarm reception probably because the participants were more interested in knowing whether they would all be included in the group that would help to form the National AIDS Coordinating Committee or whatever name the prime group for control of HIV would be named in Trinidad and Tobago. Nevertheless, more than half the group registered their names. They are:

Blended Learning List:

  1. Natasha Ali
  2. Leah Issac Rodney
  3. Tamara Forde
  4. Kathy Ann Forde Blackman
  5. Chad Felix
  6. Oleo Lokai
  7. Anderson Figaro
  8. Quincy Jones
  9. Andy Mularine
  10. Wendy O Brien
  11. Mechelle Timothy
  12. Aline Clarke
  13. Wayne Jackman
  14. Eswick Padmore
  15. Camille Ali
  16. Christopher Watson
  17. Dolores Mohammed
  18. Dominique Edwards
  19. David Soomarie
  20. Mohamed Rafique


National Action Plan:

Just before Lunch the group were asked by Autry to brainstorm and come up with a presentation for the Honorable Minister which would describe the way forward. The Core team quickly chosen consisted of

  1. Anderson Figaro
  2. Natasha Maillard
  3. Lionel Sampson
  4. Chad Marcane Felix
  5. David Soomarie
  6. Dominique Edwards
  7. O’Lea Lokai

Quickly and during Lunch this core team worked diligently and came up with a presentation for the Honorable Minister, which they presented in the Closing Ceremony. It was appreciable at how quickly they could arrive at a consensus and formulate a National Action Plan, though a draft !

Pre-requisite Elements for the Action Plan for T&T

  • They should have representation from each Ngo
  • To form a monitoring and evaluation committee with representation of 75% CSO involved with HIV and 25% other stakeholders government media and business, ebg doctors, layers.
  • The function of this committee is to monitor and evaluate the national resource to HIV inclusive of the M&E of the financial and Human resources (policy education).
  • The process must be all inclusive



The Draft Action Plan presentation:

This Power point presentation was made by the Core Team to the Honorable Minister.  It was entitled, "Confidential Draft: Attendees of T&T Community AIDS Competence Process", and posted by Autry Haynes on July 12, 2011 at 4:40pm in The Constellation: building our community 



  • On the 4-7th July, UNAIDS hosted an AIDS Competence Workshop held at Hotel Normandie, bringing together several stakeholders within the government and the civil society organisations and PLHIV.
  • The mechanism introduced being SALT. That being Stimulate, Appreciate, Learn and Transfer.
  • The main goals being to impact the introspection/reflection of the Human heart as it relates to the ways of working and interactions of the attendees.
  • The process was effectively applied upon the execution of two SALT visits  in two communities, Youth and PLHIV.
  • Within the Manifesto of the People’s Partnership in order for a united people to achieve sustainable development for Trinidad and Tobago we must have prosperity for all, a statement which highlights all key areas, including:
  • Strengthen implementation of the National HIV policy.
  • Develop a policy to promote healthier lifestyles.
  • Lifestyle campaign to achieve healthy lifestyles.
  • Stake Holders advisory council

What has been achieved

—  Having now reviewed the ways in which we work, several things have come forth.

—  A draft Action Plan for the way of moving forward has been formulated.

—  A draft Vision Statement has also been written.

—  Using ten practices of the Self/Community Assessment Framework based solely on HIV/AIDS we were able to asses both where we are at currently as well as where we need to be, i.e Level 5 (this practice is part of out lifestyle)

—  There was a clear consensus based on the ten practices that we as a country have achieved. Generally we are only at level 3 (We act, sporadically and unreliably)

—  Thus a number of draft plans have been created to move forward to getting the country at level 5 as part of our country lifestyle that in turn leads to behaviour change

Ways of Moving Forward

—  We  propose to have a country coordinating mechanism that would speak to social investment and not social dependency and as such facilitate a process that would build a functioning networking system between government and the civil society. (NGO, CBO, FBO)

—  Law Reform

—  HIV Coordinators within each Ministry.

—  Proper focal points at community levels and MARP.


—  Imagination is a vehicle which take you anywhere you want to go, without it you go nowhere.

—  Investing in the lives of citizens of the people of Trinidad and Tobago means the preservation of our equitable Humanity, Economy, continued Development and Sustainability.

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Comment by O'Leo Lokai on July 18, 2011 at 6:12pm

Great, but as you know  Strengths can become weakness is misdirected.  i will have to work on the days I missed to be able to dot he training and workshop properly. Do you all have handbooks etc?

i have a few members i would liek to have dot he programme as well.

I'll email Autry and hear what he has to say.





Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on July 18, 2011 at 11:23am

Wow! O'Leo,

So here we are! And between the two of us, we have listed your Strengths, and as you are proud of it, you Appreciate them all. So, we are already 50% SALT!  :-)

Moreover, I can put down instances from the recent Learning Event Workshop, where you have been Listening, Linking and Learning. With that we are 75% SALT!  :-)

Also finally, I have seen you as a member of the Core Team sit down, with half dozen other team members and chalk out during a lunch hour the draft National Action Plan for T&T's response to HIV! With that we are 100% SALT!  :-)

So, SALT was there much before the Constellation or any of us came into existence, and it is our natural and innate behaviour. We only have to nurture it, or allow it to blossom. I am sure if you look back you will come up with many more experiences that show you have been Listening, Linking and Learning, or where you have been working as a Team or Transferring your experiences to a different community, or individual. I am sure I will Learn if you can share these L & T experiences. Not Larsen and Tubro!


Comment by O'Leo Lokai on July 17, 2011 at 8:20pm


I have to review the presentation but

Many you have listed I am proud of but also add resourceful and self sufficient

Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on July 17, 2011 at 1:28pm

Dear O'Leo,

Apart from the Group Strengths, of which I listed a few; I see many Strengths in you, like :

Steadfastness, Focus, Critique, Cautiousness, Openness, Frankness, Not afraid to be alone,  Inclusiveness, Rights-based Activism, Standing up for one's rights, Good in Expression, Vocal about one's Rights,

I am sure there are many more, and I am handicapped because I spoke only a few seconds with you! Therefore in your reply, can you enumerate what you are proud of?

With best regards,


Comment by O'Leo Lokai on July 16, 2011 at 9:17pm

Exactly but do not believe in religion of the bible.


However, as I mentioned and we have spoken before.. SALT it is a great start towards a future for all CSOs but I will be one of many advocates who will keep our history alive so we may not be doomed to repeat it.

A better book will be 1984- George Orwell and the 'news speak'.


The T T competence group is a good initiative however I do not believe it will be the network which will be used solely by US the CSOs to look at the way forward with HIV and AIDS in Trinidad and Tobago.

However it would contribute immensely  with it members and objectives etc.

Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on July 16, 2011 at 9:11pm

Dear O'Leo,

Like Anderson, permit me to quote from the Holy Bible:

Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do [men] light a lamp, and put it under the bushel. Luke 8:16-17

Accordingly, let us look at the Strengths of the T&T Competence group. I have already written that the group listed down the most comprehensive list of human values that I have so far seen in the exercise, "Are we Human?" during the SALT visit to CARe. So, we can conclude that there are good thinkers, analyzers, and planners in our T&T group.

Another instance of Strength and of Team work is the draft presentation ( presentation.ppt, 504 KB), which the Core Team came up with, and which was made in about an hour of lunch time! We have to Appreciate the collaborative effort of this Team. All of us can go on listing many more Strengths, and instances of Team work like this.

Accordingly, I am sure this T&T Competence team can come up with good laws, policies, and plans for themselves and for T&T which will be one of the best practices in CLCP and ACP.

Comment by O'Leo Lokai on July 16, 2011 at 5:03pm

All of us are human -that is why law, policy, best practices and jails were invented.


I agree it is only looking at our past and weaknesses we can become strong.


That is why one  of our future initiatives together with an international group is to do an assessment of past issues, experiences and failures of CSO involved in HIV work locally , document and submit to relevant bodies for analysis.




Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on July 16, 2011 at 9:50am

Dear O' Leo,

One of the basics we follow in ACP or CLCP is that we only look for Strengths, and for commonalities. That way we will see so many positives or Strengths, and learn to Appreciate these Strengths. 

Of Course, the world is not a perfect one, and as all of us are human, we will make mistakes, and we may do negative things. Realizing that these mistakes are our weakness, is the first step to avoiding them. Moreover, by reinforcing our Strengths we can make up and make ourselves and the world a better place.

Comment by O'Leo Lokai on July 16, 2011 at 7:28am


Yes but in Trinidad we have another song we sing- 'What sweet in goat mouth sour in the bam bam"


I really like your programme but HIV in The Caribbean is a very currupt and unkind industry hence my upcoming book  and articles which  talk about it in detail.


Things will be better with change and the right people .  Unfortunately for some HIV was/is a business , it is also an opportunity to start a face book fan page and define your career by your HIV positive status, become a ' wanna be celebrity'  and jump on a bandwagon for opportunity not advocacy.


It is a funny world world we live in, so we have to laugh all the way.

Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on July 16, 2011 at 12:12am

Dear O'Leo

I Appreciate and agree with you. We must Learn from our past experiences.


Moreover, we had resolved in the workshop that we would all practice SALT.Accordingly, as you say everyone in the T&T group will move with sincerity, transparency, and accountability. Like in the song: It's a new day, It's a new way...


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