Connecting local responses around the world
We were heartened that 35 parents responded to our call to be part of a team tasked with the challenge of addressing a concern or problem in their neighbourhood. With the help of Kiran Kandade a volunteer facilitator, we introduced the Appreciative Inquiry framework as a way of building a team around what works rather than trying to fix what does not.
“Share with us a significant episode in your life,” led 2 fathers to declare that it was the day they met their wives. They elaborated that after years of repeated skirmishes with the law that began during their teenage years, they now live only for their family. Participants were discussing in small groups and to encourage mutual learning within the entire room, every small group had to present their significant episode in a skit. It was hilarious how one of the fathers re-enacted the day he met his wife in the train but after the laughter had died down, the significant message from him was that relationships are important and we need to constantly value and nurture them.
A mother of 3 from another group spoke about the period when her family was homeless 7 years ago. The situation exacerbated when her husband’s workplace wound up and he could not find work immediately. She sought rental housing but after repeated visits to the relevant authorities, her situation did not improve. Out of desperation, she plucked up the courage to send an email to the Prime Minister and the following day, she got the keys to her current flat. Her message to the other participants was the importance of perseverance in the face of difficulties. She also shared that she does her best to volunteer because she knows that when people are in a bad shape, a small gesture of support is significant.
A father recalled a day when his son was 8 years old. The boy had come home from school crying because of harsh comments his teacher had made about his composition. He took a look at the piece of work and realised where the teacher was coming from but felt strongly that his son needed support and encouragement rather than admonishing. So he visited the teacher to express his views and was glad he did so because he found the teacher to be a reasonable person who acknowledged that he was having a bad day and apologised for his mistake. More importantly, his gesture was significant because it assured his son that his family and school were there to help him learn. His son is now 26 years old and working as a Medical Technologies Officer. This father believes that meeting the teacher 18 years ago helped to steer significant support his son’s way.
Significant episodes in our lives energise us and our next step is to link this energy to an agenda for change. Positive change is most likely when our members are active participants in change initiatives and are not simply passive beneficiaries.
“I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” - Pablo Casals