Connecting local responses around the world
I will start this article by first defining SALT; as defined by “Heinemann English Dictionary”; a white compound, sodium chloride (formula NaCL), widely used to flavor and preserve food;…informally “experience” can make one salty.
As a verb we add salt in order to season or preserve food; informally it can be introduced to give a false impression of “value”.
My recent learning experience with youths in “camp blossom” (an opportunity to practice S.A.L.T.) stimulated quite a few questions, and concerns; for example: are we as S.A.L.T. agents flavoring and preserving both “good” and “bad” values?
In dialogue with the youths, which came from different ethnic, economic and religious background I was made to understand, that we as adults, have been either directly or indirectly imposing upon them false impressions of “values’. They say, that when we as adults, having the power, authority and qualification to do something about the ills in their society; most times, we always comprise the truth, and as a result, encourage the wrong.
The following is another of the many questions that they asked; “Sir, are we expected to preserved the corruption and practices of immorality, that are allowed to exist today, by society, slowly making themselves look normal”?
This made me reflect on the ways we have been responding to HIV/AIDS, and other social challenges. We, the stakeholders, say we are in the fight, together, driven by a common goal; to reduced the spread, and provide quality support to those infected.
So, we, the youths and the facilitators dialogued, about the training system; the referral system; the planning system; the communication system; the budgeting system; the information system; the compensation system; the treatment system, for the designing and implementation of programs that would really have impact; not that there has not been any impact. However, it is time we move beyond programs that promote external pressure, because as evidence has shown, external pressure has not stimulated the hearts and minds of persons to be changed; so we have not satisfactorily acquired the desired result, which is, sustainable behavior change.
Such programs, that promotes external pressure have caused very, very few persons to change their attitude and by extension their behavior. If all that money, time, and energy was placed on programs that supported, stimulated, and facilitated character development, which is of Course beyond, personality development, many, many more lives, would have been saved. Persons who have developed character, are driven by values; conscience; they do not rationalized the wrong to make it seem right, to further wiggle its way to be accepted as normal; they are not influence by the norm that the majority decides what is right and what is wrong; they are guided by their conscience. Further, they would not sow seeds of discord, manipulate, lie, and they would not be self-centered and selfish persons, whose, perceptions about themselves, are that they are the experts, and they know best.
To be AIDS Competent, is not to be an expert, but to understand, that rooted deep inside all of us, combined with the experience of others, resides the possibility of the success formula. The word “possibility’ is used here with the understanding that some human beings, would blame, either, their environment, (condition, or conditioning) or their genetic make-up (DNA) for their present position; the ones guided by their conscience knows that it is always their “CHOICE”, that determines their destiny.
Another solution that would bring about the desired change to our various challenges, such as HIV/AIDS is, unless and until some of the major players/projects are debunked, HIV/AIDS and other societal ills, which challenged human development, will be here with us for a very long time, and we will not see, experience or even hope to see the dawning of a new day.
Another profound statement or concern that came from the youth was; “Sir, if persons in our environment, support us, and help us build and sustain good, solid foundations, and be good exemplars; then, we will be able, with much more ease, and motivation to achieve our dreams/goals.
The future is truly in the hands of the children; however we do have a majestic role, and tremendous responsibility to support, stimulate and facilitate a bright one; they are truly looking at us.
I believe, we, as S.A.L.T. agents, stimulating and facilitating local response, should be convicted in conscience to do the right thing; as another youth said, “sir, elders must follow their own advice’; such profound statements emanating from our children.
You know, sometimes, we, as adults, believe we are the experts, and we strengthen our ignorance at times, by imposing our flawed values on the children, because we are older than they are; so we say to them one thing and we do something totally different; we need to remember, or become cognizant of the fact, that, children live what they learn; and we are their mentors, knowingly or unknowingly.
As a facilitator of S.A.L.T. (practicing) those youths made me recognized a little clearer my role and responsibility; it is to competently facilitate the development of foundations for many generations; I am stimulating and facilitating the restoration of desirable communities to dwell in, one child, one family, one community at a time.
Children do say the saltiest things. Their interaction was speaking loudly to us as adults, and S.A.L.T. agents; that purification begins from the inside-out and not the outside in.
We must not be satisfied until hearts are changed, for it is only changed hearts, changed mind-sets, changed ways of working that will bring about sincere, lasting, sustainable change, which will be enjoyably and correctly transferred.
For too long we have witnessed the dismal failure of well funded, well advertised, manipulative, and nepotism driven, media campaigns, and other projects, which were supposedly developed to facilitate behavior change and local response, but have not reaped the desired results.
As S.A.L.T. agents we are called to be facilitators, cleansing and preservative agent in our society. This means we have to facilitate the empowerment of the members of our community so that they will be able to recognized and appreciate, their uniqueness; importance, and their ability to inspire; innovate and influence their environment, recognizing that they are invaluable and that they are the creative force of their lives, their environment, their well-being.
Founder and visionary of “The Voice Of One-Overcomers Club”; “Central Trinidad Civil Society Network” and the S.A.L.T. group “Overcomers Competence”