Connecting local responses around the world
PLEASE PASS ME THE S.A.L.T.
Coming back from my usual morning jog and looking forward to a hot cup of coffee when I noticed a young girl standing outside the gate to our house. I ambled up to where she was while wondering what it is she was looking for or selling that early in the morning!
It was 9 year old Esther, a twin and an orphan. Both parents had died some years back from HIV/AIDS. Esther and her twin sister were in the care of grandma in the village close by.
Esther had been one of the 20 orphans selected by the local school to participate in a 12 days, 10th to 22nd May 2010, S.A.L.T program. The program was co-sponsored by Canadian University students on holiday and Spring of Life. During the period, we sang, did some art work, took instant photographs of ourselves and the community around, flew kites, played soccer, had sewing lessons but the highlights were when we shared our perceptions on care, community, change, leadership and hope at different age levels,at the end of each day. How transfer can be more effective through trust, attitude and presence while using every day things that people are able to respond to and are familiar with.
Ultimately community is based on communication. Communication can be heightened and exciting using sport, art and other activities.
Esther had come to collect her photo and frame. The day we all had collected ours, Esther had gone to the hospital to pick her Anti Retroviral drugs. You should have seen the smile in her eyes as she looked at her photo and frame.
As she turned round the corner, I found myself thanking God for the experience and privilege. I thanked God for the years I had spent in Chikankata where the Home Care concept was first practiced as the option to respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The experience has continued to define my work and responses to personal, community tragedies and/or celebrations. Especially in the area of HIV/AIDS.
It was in the ‘80s when it happened. HIV/AIDS. Mental images linger, of a small group of staff huddled together in prayer after another trip into the community where shock, negative emotions and thoughts were slowly consuming the community. HIV/AIDS was slowly moving everyone from the natural state of faith and hope to that of fear and loss of memories of the way it was. Theirs (the team) was a mission in worship, a genuine resolve to succeed and identify with the community not as providers but facilitators and partners in the search for the inherent responses.
The lessons and outcomes were a miracle. Individuals as well as communities had capacity as well as resilience to respond to trauma because they live believing that, ‘I am because you are’. Given the environment where interaction is based on ‘as human beings’ with whom, my capacities combined with yours do lead to solutions and sustainable development and not pre-established social roles’ which can hinder true dialogue
The outcomes were the realization that we all want to go ‘home’ when in pain and fear where those who love us and we love are! That, some of the traditional and/or cultural beliefs were the reason for our pain i.e. ritual cleansing, polygamy, lack of moral boundaries that protect our rights etc while some were beacons of our strength i.e. extended family and sharing in our sorrows and joys! Defining lessons for the facilitators!
Pain tends to isolate us not only from ourselves but even those around us through our thoughts. Sometimes, hospitals and other care environments do make it hard for us to detach our self from the situation as they emphasize the thought that I am a ‘victim’. A quiet environment where our name is quietly whispered not as a number but as one of us is invaluable as it gives us moments to forget the pain. To receive and allow.
The understanding and use of S.A.L.T as a method does not only encourage participation but promotes spontaneity, lightheartedness and real joy to everyone involved. Authentic relationships become possible because social images disappear. Genuine approaches activate inner resolve to succeed. SALT is more than sympathy and acknowledgement, it goes beyond forums, and it understands the rules and knows the exceptions. Effective facilitation makes everyone feel valued as interaction is based not on content but presence.
The biggest lesson is the opportunity to re-define our realities and the beginning of discovering who we really are!
We did that with the mothers, teachers, students and Orphans for two weeks. Soccer was most interesting at the age of 57(my mother wonders why 22 people can spend all their energies chasing a round rubber thing).
Joy is doing something you love and
have a passion for. It is internal and never external. Something we were created for
Please pass me the S.A.L.T.!