In the face of resistance, we chose to remain SALTy

When those in authority become too involved in the community's life, the community becomes dependent and see themselves as recipients of welfare and help. Working in a community with a good mix of low, middle and high income group, it is natural that that rich sees themselves as superior and powerful. They take charge of leadership positions and make decisions they deem to be helpful for the whole community.

I was invited by the Residents Commiittee (RC) to make a presentation to this community a couple of days ago. They wanted to know what WE are DOING in helping the community.  Together with 2 other colleagues, we discussed and decided we will take this opportunity to share about CLCP. We also wanted to take the opportunity to appreciate the RCs work and thank them for inviting us.

Our sharing about Constellation was not well accepted by some members. They said they are only interested to know what we have been doing to help. I replied by saying "Our help in the community has been in the form of strengthening community and encouraging community to take charge of their own issues and in believing in their own collective capacities." One members response to this was: "Don't try to brain-wash the RC."  At that moment, I felt the strongest urge to remain SALTy. I apologised if I have come across as brain-washing the RC and I that was indeed how we have been involved in the community . I also invited them to join us for our SALT visit to tne low-income community this Saturday and see what work we are doing with the community :))

This is the first meeting/situation where my SALTiness was challenged!!! I am glad my 2 other colleagues remained calm and non-reactive.

 

AAR

What was good:

a. We took the opportunity to introduce CLCP

b. Some members were more receptive to the idea, so, the door is not totally shut for future collaboration

c. We work as a team and we remained united in the face of adversity

d. We were able to laugh at the rather unexpected experience!

e. We invited them to our SALT visit this Saturday.

 

What we could do differently:

We had some questions here:

a. Could we have just shared about our programs - ie sharing on some practical help we have been rendering to the community

b. Was it too soon to intorduce CLCP?

 

Our learning:

a. The Chairman wanted us to go along with the politics for now as a way to "enter" the group. I wasn't informed of this and I might have come across as not in collaboration with her. Having knowledge of this information could have altered my approach a little.

b. We could have addressed those who were more receptive to CLCP and not focus too much on the 2 resistance members.

 

It was still a very enriching community visit!!!

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Comment by Gaston on November 21, 2011 at 8:13am

Great. Look forward to talk this afternoon about this experience!

Comment by Gloria on November 21, 2011 at 8:03am
Good morning everyone! My sincere thanks to all the wonderful feedback and encouragement! I feel very much supported globally and yeah...thanks so much. There is a lot to reflect on and I will take your points for our reflection when I meet with my team. Will share with you on some of our thoughts and I am delighted to be learning so much from all of you :))

On a potitive note, we had a good SALT visit with 10 mothers and 1 father from the same community on Saturday. We did the Dream Building exercise and the participants were very engaging. I felt very encouraged by the members who turned up for the session. They believed in themselves ie that they have dreams and they have the capacity to reach their dreams regardless of the perception the leaders have of them. One mother spoke about resilient. She is a member of the RC committee and she told me, many times she felt like quitting but she has been holding on. I felt very encouraged by her and I responded by giving her my affirmation: "As I myself go through some resistance and challenges at work, I learn to be resilient like you and not give up hope." The other participants acknowledged that she has been their inspiration and their very committed leader!

That was my first SALT visit conducted in Malay (local languanga) and thanks to IndoCompetence, the materials were very helpful. I felt a great connection with the participants and they were very pleased that I could conduct the session in their language even though I fumbled a little. Each time I fumbled, someone rose to the occasion and i could see the mothers were very happy to be able to assist me with my language. One thought that came to me was: in my vulnerability, someone found strengths!

Once again, thanks so much for your feedback and we, as a team, is still very much a novice in this learning process. We wish everyone a good and SALTy week!
Comment by Autry Haynes on November 20, 2011 at 10:19pm

I am of the firm conviction that clcp stimulates our and communities' Way Of Thinking (WOT)  and influence Way Of Working (WOW) OR how people operate! Can this be considered "brain washing?" hmmmm. On a daily basis we encounter challenging situations in our personnal lives or otherwise. This experience was worth sharing, thanks for doing that. How do we respond to invitations and state what do we do? Is there a standard operating procedure? No! So our individual response depneds on us, how SALTy we are at that moment in time. That may be influenced by the particular circumstances as well. I was invited by a village leader for almost two years to do work with his community. That should have been with respect to HIV sensitization for indigenous people. Resources did not allow that visit to take place but recently under a different project the opoortunity was there to go to that village but this had to be related to human trafficking. I did not want to miss this opportunity so my colleague and I responded to the invitation. I should let you know that this village is on the border with another country and is 1.5 hrs travel with an islander plane. Very remote. On arrival, my colleague in her usual friendly (SALTy) way began chatting with persons(whom turned out to be a village leader) and who indicated that we are suspicious of other religeous group coming to do work in our village. This village was known for its strong religeous ties. Our activity was to start the next day. During the day of our arrival I was bombarded by my colleague if we will still proceed with our intended activity. On the morning of the activity, the village leader who invited us came and what? He indicated that there was resistance from the senior community leaders about us doing the activity. I asked, was there anyone who will likely turn up? He answered in the affirmative. I said ok we will work with whoever turn up. We did. There were members from the senior village leadership probably just inquisitive about what we were doing. They participated, probably hesitantly so but we involved them and sought their opinion in the different exercises. We did the usual, intriduction of names using the fruit, hopes and concerns, dream building, self assessment and action planning. Some things were actually done, as we subsequently learn from feedback. In addition we aslo learn that discussion on what we did took place between suspicios members of the community. Just last week a couple came to the city and looked for us. They are willing for us to return to do similar work with the village members to address some serious concerns, such as domestic violence etc. Some of these concerns were mentioned in our first activity. Be steadfast in being SALTY despite the prevailing situation, kudos to you!   

Comment by Phil on November 19, 2011 at 8:43pm

Hi Gloria, 

I am surprised by how rarely we meet resistance. Perhaps we aren't getting the message across!

I place resistance in one of two categories. The first understands clearly that when a community takes ownership, it means that, in some sense, someone loses ownership or authority. The second resists because they doubt the capacity of the community to take ownership. I can sympathise with both approaches because I have been in both positions myself. I think that one challenge is to ask questions that try to discover where the concern lies. 

 

I think that you can address doubt about the capacity of communities through SALT visits and ultimately through results. The community demonstrates that it has the capacity. 

I find that resistance because of a loss of ownership is harder to deal with. Their analysis may well be correct. Often there is indeed a struggle for power within this process. One avenue is to demonstrate that this is not necessarily a zero-sum gain. Just because the community gains ownership does not mean that ownership has to be lost by others if the capacity of the community is increased. I was extremely impressed that when I saw how the women took ownership of the issue of malaria in Togo. They did this without threatening the authority of the traditional leaders of the village i.e. men. I think the facilitators of the process were very skillful in helping this discussion. 

I think that if the issue arises then it shows that you are doing something right. People are listening and thinking. You have something to work with. 

phil

 

 

Comment by Gaston on November 19, 2011 at 10:10am

Hi Gloria. Challenging situations means a lot of potential for learning! The timing issue I find also really crucial. Even if what you will say is based on experience, brings great results, worked in other places etc, the question is whether it's the right time to share. 

 

In non-violent communication, where we learn how to talk with compassion and listen deeply, they make this profound distinction between 'honesty' and 'empathy'. We can be honest and share with respect and authentically our own feelings or message. However, sometimes the other person first needs empathy before he/ she can even listen to your honesty. That really sticks in my mind. I often think: Does the person need empathy or can I share my honesty?

 

The second thing I have seen is the distinction between 'talking about' and 'practicing it'. SALT and some of the exercises are so difficult to explain conceptually. How about you propose to do dream building with the RC? What is their vision for becoming a superb RC? If they are interested in this, it could help them experience it. Just an idea. 

Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on November 19, 2011 at 9:56am

How do we answer people who ask what do you bring to communities?

Before, I used to give a negative reply: we don't bring money, we don't bring goods.

 

Now I state what we bring: the space for communities to discuss, reflect and actby themselves on their own dreams.

 

Comment by Michael Mc Garrell on November 18, 2011 at 8:23pm

I agree with Jean, the resistors become the greatest allies. I remember when we were introducing the CLCP to a High Level team from another country who had come to learn more about the process. The group was made up of ministers of the government and other directors etc.from organisations in the country. There was this one minister who from the beginning resisted the process. However by the end of the training, he was one who really saw the need for the process to be brought to his country. We have now been to his country and done the training with more persons. resistors are important, the help maintain the balance of energy flowing through the circuit. :) Don't worry Gloria they will come right back around,,

Comment by Nadia Salick on November 18, 2011 at 8:07pm
Dear Gloria,

Thank you for sharing this experience with us. Challenges are indeed very good and I'm happy that you remained SALTyy!!! Challenges like these often present us with an opportunity to look at ourselves from a different point of view. Sometimes we are not able to see how we are perceived by others.

And on agreeing with Jean-Louis' comment people who resist are usually the ones who have the greater understanding in the end because they took the time to question something and not just blindly follow it.

Keep being SALTyy!!!
Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on November 18, 2011 at 2:25pm
... and over time, the resistors sometimes become the greatest allies!
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on November 18, 2011 at 1:43pm

Hi Gloria,

 

This is a very interesting challenge. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I'm wondering: why did they say 'Don't try to brainwash to RC?' Did they feel threatened in some way? 

And if CLCP is what you do, then you responded to their question right? Did they want to hear more concrete examples of how you do it in communities? 

It happens sometimes that we experience resistance from people. We focus on those who are interested. We go where the energy is. There are enough people who are really enthusiastic about this approach so we don't have to waste too much time in 'convincing' people. I don't believe in convincing anyway :-)

Those who are ready to hear what we have to say will hear it.

 

Lau

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