The greatest impact of SALT happens to the visitor. This is what I learned in Merauke last month. When we started practicing SALT, I saw how SALT visits transform the hosts: as they learn about their own strengths, they are encouraged to act and share. In Merauke I saw how visitors are being transformed.
Dany as a lot of presence: when he speaks up, we all listen. An old teacher from Papua, he tells us how after practicing SALT in Merauke he travelled to his community all the way “up the hills of PNG”. “A lot of things are happening there that make us vulnerable; I felt I had to warn my people”. What in SALT made him take that initiative?
Ian leads a music band. With music come alcohol, drugs and girls. Ian tells us how he stopped drinking. He now discusses with his band how to focus on music and to leave the rest. What makes him take that step?
Winona tells us how her sex life has improved after listening to sex workers she visited during SALT visits. What on earth is going on?
As a lawyer Ibu Henny has been challenged with many gender based violence cases and each time she used to think: “Why can't these women get smarter and fight back their husbands or the perpetrators? Why are women so weak”? Now, after being introduced to SALT she says: “How can others change it if we do not”?
Harry joined the facilitators’ team for the Pontianak and Merauke learning events. “I have learned much from people in Merauke. They showed me love, live and fact that people can response AIDS by their own strengths. Every story has touching my heart deeply. I came back to Jakarta with smile and spirit… fabulous: why we always discussing the problem and some negative aspects if the strengths and positive things can be the power of change?”
Rysia is visiting Merauke for the third time. We knew Ibu Yosefa as a shy lady, who would only speak up when asked to lead the group into prayer. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Ibu Yosefa with her confidence, a bit naughty and funny demonstrating how to use female condom in front of 30 people. She is inspiring others, including me: love, care and concern can change not only individuals, but also their surrounding”
Rebeka joined the team for the learning event in Merauke. Here is how she concludes her first exposure to SALT and AIDS Competence: “AIDS competence is a work of force, feeling and self power”
Matt joins us for the first time in Merauke. He may be the young guy on the team, but he is the most experienced with SALT. “[Through SALT] I have been transformed. I have changed, and I have found new hope in my life. And it’s because some people chose to focus on what I could do, not on what I couldn’t. In focusing on what was possible, it strengthened my capacity to deal with what seemed impossible. In Merauke I was reminded of this personal journey toward life competence”.
When practicing SALT, the wall between self, work and home is falling apart. Another wall is falling too, between facilitators and participants. When we connect with others and appreciate their strengths we tap in an extraordinary source of energy. That energy transforms us and through us the communities we belong to. Dany is a teacher and a religious leader; Ian is a youth leader; Winona is a radio show host; Henny is the secretary of the Local AIDS Commission in Merauke; Harry works at PKBI; Matt studies Public health; Rysia works at UNDP and Rebeka at UNFPA. All of us are changing the way we approach our roles in society and this is how AIDS competence spreads.