Shimla Knowledge Fair: facilitating conversation without fixed outcomes

Constellation worked with NGO Mamta in Healthrise project on diabetes and hypertension funded by Medtronic Foundation and supported by Abt Associates. SALT and CLCP were used as a pilot in 14 villages in two blocks of Shimal district, State of Himachal, India. Nuggets from Shimla Knowledge Fair

  • Members of 12 villages- shared the actions they have taken on health. These actions were related to larger health issues sanitation and tree plantation and also in context of diabetes and hypertension- A female patient has been able to bring down her sugar level from 400 mg/dl to 140 mg/dl
  • All stakeholders related to the project - Communities (patients, their families and stakeholders) Medtronic Foundation, Abt Associates, Mamta, Constellation, SIAAP- a space to learn from different perspectives, 
    • Presence of 7 government officials
    • Global perspective- Dr Nayanjeet and Sudeepa
    • National perspective- Swaminathan
  • Each staff member in Mamta Team had a role to play from keeping time, facilitation, photography etc

- Photos of actions of communities adorned beautifully at the venue

  • 3-D model of the project depicting different components of the project
  • Facebook live videos- Aditya at his best capturing the beauty of Shimla, the excitement of the Knowledge Fair on Constellation Facebook page
  • Participants from each village were presented with a booklet documenting the action they have taken in response to health.My reflection on what was happening at the Knowledge Fair: I was struck by the energy in the Knowledge fair, the personal commitment of the Mamta team and collective engagement with which they were facilitating and even more importantly, the pride and spirit of ownership in the community members. These people don’t have to be formally empowered because they are naturally engaged. My favourite quote- "You made us see the dream for our village for the first time. Our dream is not fulfilled yet, we have a lot to do." - Jagdish, Village Dhanot

What did we learn about KF facilitation: In the Knowledge Fair removing the barriers to open conversation and dialogue is fundamental, create a safe space for people to be themselves. The objective of the KF was to encourage community members to share and exchange the work they had done for their health. We did not how the KF would end. We left it to the participants. By letting go of the outcomes and keeping it open-ended, we allowed the flow of conversation. This created a learning culture and fostered co-creation of knowledge.

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Comment by Birgitta Schomaker on September 9, 2018 at 11:41pm

Hi Rituu,

Thank you for sharing the photos that give a really good impression of this event: the booklet, the 3-D model, the photos.... Very rich! The dedication of the communities involved is tangible. 

Good reminder about all team members taking on specific roles. And I love the way of working and the positive impact this open-ended approach had: "We did not know how the KF would end. We left it to the participants". 

I am sure enthusiasm for new actions will emerge naturally from this knowledge fair!

Comment by Phil on September 7, 2018 at 11:38am


You are moving steadily towards the dream that many of us have held for Knowledge Fairs for a long time. It is a great achievement for everybody involved. 



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