........Or at least that's the excuse I used. I believed it at first. I had 4 weeks of back-to-back field trips, learning a new language, new friends, new places, and an overwhelming sense that I had bitten off more CLCP, ACP, Gender Competence and UNFPA SALT mainstreaming.... than I can chew.
After every field-trip or SALT visit, I would log on to the NING site and start blogging away about the new experiences, the amazing people I had met, and the learnings I had gained. But, like a cliche'd scene from a movie, I would virtually scrunch up every unfinished blog and chuck it in the bin. I never could understand why I did this, but something stopped me, every time.
It's like I was.... scared of sharing!
Why do we need to share?
Sharing is like setting something free. Once released, there is no limit to what an idea, an experience or some insight can do. Lives can be changed through sharing.
Sharing Gender Competence was the reason that Pak Abram* from Papua stopped thinking he had to win every argument with his wife. It is the reason he put his fists down one day and chose to use his ears instead.
Sharing her story with other women was the reason Ibu Min* from Papua, who usually kept quiet in meetings, became a confident public speaker and facilitator.
Sharing stories of change was the reason that the stakeholders in UNFPA HIV programs, people from high levels of government, women from remote communities, NGO's and the UN came together and proclaimed "we are ALL human. we ALL have strengths".
Sharing through SALT is the reason that Macy*, a member of the YSS "Trans School", said that "YSS didn't just give me information on HIV, it gave me love".
Sharing is the reason that UNFPA Indonesia has decided to mainstream SALT and CLCP into their 8th Country Program. Staff like Rebeka, Widad, Wiwin, Lily and Chandra are role-models of SALTiness. They share the philosophy of SALT just in their every-day demeanor. It shines through when people love their work, and these people are definitely shining!
Sharing is the essence of connecting as humans.
Without it, we walk alone.
So why is sharing so hard sometimes...? These are some of the things I have been reflecting on since I caught this terrible bout of Writer's Block.
1. Sharing requires taking a risk. We have to trust those that we share with, that they will receive our story or our idea in an appreciative way.
2. When we share, we must be ok with being vulnerable. There is always that risk that someone will judge you.
3. Sharing requires effort. It takes a lot of energy to tell good stories or write blogs! It definitely takes a lot of energy to create a Knowledge Asset!
4. Before we share we have to reflect. This, to me, is the hardest part - the internal analysis that occurs before we can package up that story for distribution. We have to ask ourselves "what happened?" "What did I learn from this" "How can this experience help others...?". (sound familiar?)
But yet, in CLCP, people share with us every day.
Imagine what it is like for community members with HIV to share their story?
Imagine what it is like for a young girl facing unplanned pregnancy?
Imagine what it is like for a man who regularly beats his wife to admit his folly?
Sharing must be scarey for them too.
I have a personal story that I am not ready to share openly. It is the story of what shaped who I am today, and why I do this work. It is a big part of what makes me human.
I rarely share this story with even my closest friends.
The other day I met a woman with warm eyes and an even warmer heart. It was during a SALT visit. It was supposed to be me doing the SALT visit, but something about her strength and her openness made me start to feel that I could share with her.
I told her my story. She didn't say much. She just listened and held my hand.
She looked in my eyes with a connection and understanding that I will never forget. I felt accepted and appreciated.... I felt loved.
This experience taught me that when we share we become free of pain.
It helped me to realise that this is something I must do for others. I must make it easy to share. I must facilitate not just by setting particular activities, but by creating the right atmosphere. I must offer the warmth and quiet understanding that this lady offered me.
Thank you for letting me share with you today.