[A story about mobilising resources]

Soon after I was seconded to UNAIDS in 2003 I went to Uganda to visit some communities. I learned more by listening to them than I was able to share with them. One of the communities was a fishing village which was reached after travelling for more than an hour off of the made-up road. The village was on the shores of a large lake and the villagers were waiting for us. There were a number of boats moored up, fish being dried and more being cooked for our lunch. After the usual greetings, songs and plays they shared some examples of what they were doing to respond to their issues.

The population was transient. Men came to live in the village for many months to make enough money to support their family who may be living many miles away. When the fishing was good the men made lots of money and that attracted sex workers. As the fish migrated around the lake (there were three such villages on the shores of the lake) the sex workers did also. Inevitably HIV spread around the lake as well. 

However despite the community being transient there were many children, some orphaned through AIDS. The community had a sense of responsibility towards these children and built a school so they could get an education.

When fishing was good the fishermen were able to contribute to the cost of the teacher, paper and chalk etc. but when fishing was poor they didn’t have funds. 

The fishermen got together and bought an extra boat and set of nets. Each day one fisherman would take the boat out. Whatever was caught by that boat went directly to funding the school. Hence they had a sustainable source of funding to ensure there was always money to pay the teacher and run the school.

When I tell this story to other communities even ones not by the side of the lake they take inspiration to come up with solutions for sustainably funding their responses.

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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on January 11, 2013 at 6:52pm

A response from Sheila from Story Teller's network


Sheila Skillingstead Nice story. People working together, acts of kindness, spreading together to make a better world--one fish at a time.
Comment by MariJo on January 11, 2013 at 2:38pm
Thank you, Geoff. This fishermen story got directly into my heart. The way collectivity can make it to deal with their members needs is specially relevant for me in this hard times so many people is going through in my country. It makes me reflect on how many privileges had been taken for granted and were not acknowledged as an asset, like that of collectively contributing to the welbeing of all. And the story also gives me hope that we will recover the simplicity of living as human beings and not in service of the system.
Thank you
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on January 10, 2013 at 11:45pm

Goeff, I shared your blog in India Civil Society facebook group which I moderate. Your blog got many likes. Here are two  responses from Vivek. Thank you Vivek!


Vivek Bhargava Rituu At Constellation...Thanks to you for sharing such a awesome example of resource mobilization.
Very true even in  NACP III implementation,   currently there are 2 targeted interventions programs are running - migrant & truckers which can't be succeed without having community responses in an effective manner and mobilization of resources from the community itself for organizing health camps and community events so as to spread the awareness at its maximum level regarding HIV/AIDS to the Socially marginalized community people.
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on January 10, 2013 at 9:03pm
A response from Laura Simms on facebook. Thanks Laura for sharing.
Laura Simms This small impactful description of how a community found a way to relate
and benefit their lives through reflection based on
what was needed.  I love also that Geoff tells this story to others to
inspire them to look clearly at what they have in their lives,
and their conditions and environment and come up with a socially
responsible collaborative idea that works. Keeping the channels of
communication open (obviously since they all turned up from the village
they are in the habit of listening to one another) and supporting their intelligence (Geoff described listening to their ideas before launching
into anything else) is best practice.  I loved reading this. I wonder if
such enriched listening can occur on a large scale, or does it always have
to be with small groups (even within a large context)?  Laura
I would like to add something about the telling of the story.

It can be inserted..  Why the retelling of the story is inspiring it seems to me is because when one listens to a story it is not only about the others who were part of the event, but listeners imagine the story in their own minds (that is how we listen) and become the landscape on which the event occurs.  At the same time, it renders the mind open and flexible in the listening.  This happens when we avoid making explanations and moral judgements, but let the story stand on its own.


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