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Learning event on SALT and HIV/AIDS interfaith work - when the Dutch team learned and shared with the Thai team

Attachment 1 AAR on SALT Visits.docAttachment 2 Summarizing lessons learned, planning application and ...

We’ve heard that the Constellation considers itself a midwife. How about the SALT facilitators who work with the communities as well as try to transfer the approach to others? Well, during the AAR we (a small number of us from the Interfaith Network on HIV/AIDS in Thailand, Norwegian Church Aid, and the Constellation) had together one evening after introducing the ACP to the visiting Dutch team (Mexit, Islamic Dialogue Foundation, and Serve the City) last week, we decided that we are an incubator! Because we work in such a way that provides an enabling environment for the egg so that it will hatch and the baby chick comes out when it’s ready, when the condition is right. And each egg is different. It needs its own time and its own condition. One may hurry the process by trying to break the egg shell open and get the baby chick out, but the baby chick may not be ready, so it may come out weak and soon die. So while an incubator may support many eggs at the same time, it doesn’t rush the process; it just continues to support the eggs so that they will hatch in their own good time. SALT facilitators do the same as they support the communities and other groups !

Actually many exciting things happened during our learning event in the week of 28 Feb.-4 Mar. The first day was spent getting to know each other as human beings, each other’s work, concerns and challenges. On the second day, SALT and the ACP was introduced. SALT visits were conducted to 3 communities on the following 2 days, ending with an AAR. On the last day, we had our reflections, summarized lessons learned, built our common dream, planned the next step of the Thai team’s visit to the Netherlands in May, and ended with a fun appreciation session, before evaluation and closing. As we had Rafique from India and Marion from France joining the Dutch team consisting of Bastiaan, Moustapha, Brigitte, and Alper, along with a dozen Thai, the little event turned out to be a great international learning event focusing on SALT and HIV/AIDS interfaith work with the communities.

I am attaching 2 documents here for those who want to read about what we learned and what we planned in more details, and will also post many photos from this event. Many thanks to Rafique who kindly helped to type the sheets of flipcharts! Many thanks to everyone who facilitated and everyone who participated so actively in the event (including the community people), and of course to Oxfam/Novib for supporting the initiative and making the event possible!

Usa Duongsaa

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Comment by Marion on March 11, 2010 at 9:15am
@ Usa: the images of the incubator and the baby chick are deeply eloquent. I really like it !
:) Best wishes !

@ Rafique: thank you for the way you exchange your point of view. I am sure it "strikes a resonating chord in MOST of us" !!
Best regards, :)
Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on March 11, 2010 at 7:03am
Dear Usa, Rituu, Lawan, Marion, and all my friends,

If someone asked me what is the one single point that I could take back from this SALT visit, the advice from the Buddhist monk at the Jedi Me Krua Community Temple of Sansai District in Chiangmai springs fresh and uppermost to my mind:
Work with your heart. Do your best. Don’t worry about the outcomes. Do what the community wants to do. Let the community members do it their way, and support them. It’s their work, not our work. And if success comes, it is the community’s success, not your success.”

It was his concern for facts or actual occurrences; his practical approach strengthened with the immovable sense of fairness that opened my eyes. Here was an advice, that everyone could follow in any sphere of life for competence, for it had all the components of SALT pursued with a sort of religious fervour.

I remember JLL recounting a similar experience when he first met Suwat, an Epidemilogist in Phayao, who also was as good as a Bhuddist monk as he had built three Bhuddist temples, in "Suwatland". I quote Suwat from JLL's book "There is another way":

“Dr. Lamboray, Buddha said: try. His teachings work for me, but that doesn’t mean that they will work for you. If that’s the case, fine. Otherwise, it’s no big deal, don’t insist.” That evening I [JLL] thought about Thai pragmatism, about Buddhist pragmatism.

Sitting with similar feelings, in one corner of the large hall in the Jedi Me Krua Community Temple with its many murals from the life of Buddha high above our heads, I listened attentively to Usa translating the measured and steady tones of this man doling out the same pragmatic wisdom. The similarity, resonance or concordance was inescapable from a Quranic passage:
88:22 Thou art not one to manage (men's) affairs.
Yusuf Ali in the commentary to this verse says, “The prophet of Allah is sent to teach and direct people in his way. He is not sent to force people in their way".

The nuances of SALT is that we must keep re-learning not to butt in or manage the community's affairs. Not to bother about the outcomes. We do our 'Karma' of facilitation and leave the rest to the community. The community will bother about the outcomes in their own sweet time when they do their own self assessment.

Hoping this strikes a resonating chord in you, and am waiting to hear its music,

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on March 9, 2010 at 10:32pm
Dear Khun Usa,

I just loved the incubator and egg story.

La gon,

Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on March 9, 2010 at 5:19am
This was my second SALT visit in Thailand. Yet it was so different. Initially I was apprehensive that it would be a repetition. However, it was strenghteningly same and yet refreshingly different. I mean all the good things like SALT techniques was the same, strenghtening what had slipped from my mind, but we were now looking at SALT through the refreshing and common lens of spirituality!

There were many firsts too. I learnt for the first time, that I could not afford to drop the notebook and that my memory was not all to reliable! It needed the first line in the notebook to open the gates or the valves of the previous days memories, so that the interesting stories and experiences we had heard came back like a flood, with all its details and nuances. Otherwise, it was a blank. A previous day's photograph also sometimes did the same trick, but not always!

Another important lesson for me was that we must continously apply SALT. And just as charity begins at home, I must start applying more SALT first in the family. Then I will apply SALT, especially how to ask the right questions, in regular activities with people perceived to be ‘people with problems’, volunteers, I will also share with colleagues who will work with communities, applying SALT in our daily conversations, in relating and working with people, especially appreciating them more.

If we do not apply SALT in our lives it wears off. And soon, everyone finds us bland and not so tasty!

Comment by suriyon sungkham on March 9, 2010 at 4:37am
ขอบพระคุณหลายๆฝ่าย ที่ทำให้เกิดบทเรียนการทำงานอันแสนดีงามของเครือข่ายศาสนาฯ ที่จะเป็นส่วนหนึ่งในการหว่านเมล็ดพันธุ์แห่ง SALT ให้เจริญงอกงามใจจิตใจของคนทุกระดับ ในฐานะของคนทำงานคนหนึ่งก็ขออาสาที่จะเป็นส่วนหนึ่งในการหว่านเมล็ดพันธุ์ รดน้ำ พรวนดินใส่ปุ๋ย เพื่อให้ SALT เจริญงอกงามต่อไป
Comment by Ian Campbell on March 8, 2010 at 3:56pm
Thanks Usa

Very refreshing -particularly the naming of human strengths noticed during SALT visits . No surpise to see 'drop the notebook'.


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