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Dream Building in SALT, Pakistan-- One story only

Dreams can be of individuals, of small groups (e.g HIV/TB/Hep C infected people in a village) --  of  the elderly in a village (as happened in Uganda) or of the whole community with its sub groups based on gender, ethnicity, class, religion, occupation.  While the community is to make choices, SALT Facilitator also has a role to play. For example, in four village settings in the mountain regions of Pakistan, after a community ended their discussion/sharing about  how they see their village in 10 years,  the facilitator asked: do you see that  in 10 years there is no suicide in the village? This promptly led to a discussion on suicide, and all present talked openly. A doorway was opened to consider how the community could prevent suicides.

Is it acceptable for SALT Facilitators to propose their agenda to a community ? Practice shows it is acceptable, provided in the process community freely identifies their priorities. In a village in Dadu, Pakistan, the Facilitators entered a village to work on malnutrition in children under five. Community was welcoming and supported their activities. When SALT was introduced, and dream exercise took place, about 150 women and men set in a large circle, with women on one side and men on the other. When they started to speak how they wish to see their village in 10 years,  malnutrition of children did not feature in their dream. When a facilitator added that in 10 years time there is no malnourished child, the villagers agreed but it was obviously not their priority.

In another rural setting, dream exercise was done after discussion with a group of villagers (from about 14 villages) about community responses, followed by their sharing of perception of humanity, and then what they are proud of in their life. This was followed by a dream exercise… verbally. A follow up exercise showed how the villagers had taken actions, and were thrilled by what they had initiated. Thus, whereas there were no minute details of the dream, but stimulation was enough to generate action, and actions reflected community’s choices – including getting water for a government heath unit, supporting families in accessing a health service, financial support to those who need money for medicine.

The dream exercise in the first 5 days SALT workshop in Karachi by two SALT facilitators involved participants in drawing their collective dream. They reached this point from their individual dream to a group dream to a dream of all the groups. A dream was made, but within 3 months everything fizzled out as excepting two, all participants did not pursue SALT in their work settings.

In an international SALT Learning group, the dream exercise began with the group listening to some practioners experiences of dream building, intermingled with comments and sharing. Time ended and the group could not go into specific steps of experiencing their own dream-building . Yet, many in the group were stimulated and found the session educational. One member even wrote a wonderful poem. In another international learning group, the dream exercise focused on a world without covid and individuals drew their drawing and shared them by adding some verbal clarifications.

In view of the above account, what steps could be proposed for a dream exercise ? On the one hand, it seems all approaches are effective as villagers/participants are stimulated to dream, and it is very significant that everybody can dream, even as there are variations in their dream. ( there has been only reporting of a facilitator saying the very poor cannot dream. She was challenged to turn this into a research question and do  a case control study. She agreed, but never undertook this learning exercise.)

If somebody were to undertake a dream exercise with any groups, the following steps could be considered:




Comments if any


General discussion on Dream/s


a)       Are we ready to take the step towards dream building ? it is step 2 in the CLCP learning cycle

b)      How is step 1 of CLCP linked with step 2 ?

c)       Now, lets start talking about dreams …anything to share about dream/s ?

d)      What do they reflect?

e)      Any experience to share about conducting a dream exercise with a group.

f)        What is the effect of dream building on those participating in it ?

g)       An invited person could share their experience of dream building with a community.

h)      What have we learnt from this discussion ?


a)       and b) could take 30 minutes.


Remaining points could take 30 – 40 min.


No need to worry. A dream exercise can be spread over 2 sessions… and more if needed.



Personal Dream

Individual exercise

Every participant requested to dream of where they are in 10 years. They could also be asked to draw their dream

It would be interesting to see the focus of each individual.


Dream for a community

a)       Participants asked to individually see where the community they are working with would be in 10 years. They are asked to draw this dream, and/or use a poem to describe it

b)      Participants in small groups share their dreams and construct a group dream, and draw it out.

c)       Small groups come together to share their dream

d)      Together one large dream is built.



Facilitator could ask the group to ensure every person’s dream is included…. that nobody is left out.


How is a dream exercise will be conducted in a community setting ?

a)       Small groups formed

b)      Each group outlines the steps they will take to conduct the exercise in a community setting

c)       Sharing of outlines of dream exercise shared in a larger group

When sharing is taking place Facilitator/s ask:

Can the community be asked the following questions :

a)       Who is left out in from the dream ?

b)      Have dreams of special persons been considered – example, children, elderly, very poor, minorities, to name some.





The above steps for dream building are based on two participatory principles:

  1. Participants get the space to present freely their thoughts and feelings  Facilitator ensures that a non-judgmental environment is maintained, and people listen to each other, and also share what they like about the discussions and their content.
  2. Participants also experience the act of dream building

Participants share their lear

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Comment by Phil on April 9, 2021 at 11:32am

Dear Kausar,

I liked your phrase, "A doorway was opened."

I think the facilitator can open doorways. The facilitator can even encourage the community to take a step beyond the doorway. If they are interested they will start to explore for themselves....


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