Connecting local responses around the world
Digesting all my learning from a week in Samara, a beautiful Russian city at the Wolga, it appears to me, now clearer then ever, that SALT is a natural process. It reminds us to be ‘normal’, to be the human beings we are in all our interactions.
Natasya, in her wheelchair during our last (in a series of 6) SALT visits that week says it beautifully:
“These meetings with your team once again proved that it is not important how we look, what language we speak, what confession we are from, or what problem we are trying to solve. First of all we are All Human. We have an equal and common need to love and be loved, to live in peace. We all want to live a full live. We all want the right to give. We all want to be citizens of our country. We want to be members of our community. We are citizens of a small planet called earth, a blue ball. We have the need to keep our planet safe. To realize our dreams we all have to hold hands and act together”.
Some of the facilitators let the tears flow, touched by the words of Natasya that summarize so well all that we learned this week: in the meeting room during the famous ‘are we human’ exercise, but more obvious during the SALT visits in this city.
Once we can see each other as equal human beings, we find the common ground and we are able to share. And when looking for strengths the stories come, for us to aspire and apply to our context.
The lessons that Natasya, Katya and the director share are of big help to the new facilitators of the AIDS Competence Center in Samara, and equally apply to all of us in our own lives. When in Samara a person after an accident or illness looses his ability to walk, one of the members of the center for disabled people goes to the hospital and sits next to the bed. To share own experiences, to support, and to simply hold the hand of the person who often is traumatized. Later, that buddy is almost always invited to his new friends house where he can also support the family and neighbors in accepting and dealing with the new situation. ‘How I wished there would have been some-one like you next to me when I discovered I was HIV positive’, declares Svetlana from Kazan. “If we could just hold each others hand when its most needed… if we could be just human….”
Alexei and Elena, the Samaran ACP facilitators directly see the application for the HIV positive people in their city – phone numbers are exchanged and connections are made. Samara Competence, here we come!
Foto: Natasya at the disabled center in Samara: a source of inspiration for young ACP facilitators.