I see the power of local response during a SALT Visit cum BBQ at Sembawang

  1. Before the event itself, we had difficulty getting the participants to help prepare the tea-break and BBQ. All were busy. Two residents who were not able to attend volunteered to do the preparation and they even brought down the food to the bus.
  2. While waiting for the others to come, participants were helping to call the others who have yet to come.
  3. During the SALT Visit itself, they looked out for each other. They helped one participant who had a baby, to find a comfortable place and position for the baby to sleep. They prepared and gave food to one participant who was busy with her children.
  4. All of them spontaneously helped out in the BBQ and especially the cleaning and washing up after the Tea-Break and BBQ. The whole process of cleaning up after the BBQ was done so quickly and thoroughly . . . even before I could give any instructions. Extra food was packed and distributed evenly to all participants.

Wow! It seems that I don’t have to do anything. One of my colleague who was facilitating the SALT Visit commented, “What you have done was to move away a little, to create space for these people.”

So, at the end of the day, what did I learned?

  1. Well, I have to let go and not take charge of everything.
  2. My old ways of instruct and advice made way to believing that participants have the capacity to take charge. This experience made me believe and trust in their capacity to respond.
  3. I see their care, kindness, thinking of others first and how they do what they know is necessary to do . . . all these strengths of the participants.
  4. All these made my work light and easier to manage. I actually had FUN that day.

The colleague I mentioned earlier reminded me, "Generally, people do care for each other. Sometimes too much presence of the 'outsders' in their life, crowded the space for the people to give and to care."


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Comment by Marie Lamboray on September 4, 2012 at 2:42pm

If you would like to read more about the necessity of letting go, please read:

Exploring SALT visits and SALT behaviours, Phil

True dialogue for transformation and peace, paragraph 5,  Laurence Gilliot

feb.29,2010, from "I have given up taking care of people...", Caca Carillo, see also the Comments

Developments in 2008, MariJo

Comment by Kunchok Tsundue on August 21, 2012 at 11:55am

This is a highly apt developmental concept that we must always try to factor in when planning. To begin with we must try to understand the nature of local space which is more or less occupied by some agents or agencies. That can be done by listing all stakeholders by ranging their degree of impacts and influence. Then we must look at and try to figure out what we normally do that undermine the local space. There may score of things which needs to be withdrawn to give or create the legitimate space which is vital enough to create effective responses for both internal and external forces. This will take time because we may have already weakened local spaces and made dependent on our external activities.          

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on August 16, 2012 at 12:13pm

Hi Christina, I have had a similar experience. why do we want to do things for others/communities? Isn't it less stressful and more sustainable to motivate communities to do things for themselves. The challenge is do we, working in NGOs, want to let go:-)  


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