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I have had "writer's block" for 3 months....

........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.


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Comment by Dewi Rahmadania on March 21, 2011 at 8:22am

Dear My Olie..,


I put your story into Indocompetence web yah..,

saya mohon izin..,

you can look ur story on


tenkiu n miss you so much my dear Ollie..,


with full of love for you..,


Comment by Olivia Munoru on October 27, 2010 at 9:39am
Laurence! This is BRILLIANT! I am going to use it tonight with my thesis work. Thank you!
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on October 27, 2010 at 9:30am
I found this piece of advice in Km4dev, by Matt Moore:

The only solution is to write.
- Spend 20 mins writing the worst possible paragraph on your topic that you can. Make it truly awful. Anything you write after that will seem awesome.
- Write whatever comes into your head for 10 mins - but you have to fill one side of paper in the process.
- Set yourself a reward for having written a certain amount
Comment by Gusto Aihan on September 30, 2010 at 4:53pm
congratulation Olivia
from your text I believe that
You always able to overcome your " ego-defense oriented"
Comment by Marie Lamboray on September 13, 2010 at 1:03pm
Hello Olivia !

I have recently searched the Web for people or groups who apply Paolo Freire’s ideas which are close to those of the Constellation. Blanca Facundo is one of them. She created, in the end of the seventies, education programs for poor urban population of San Juan, Puerto Rico where she was born. After that, from 1980 and for four years, she has coordinated 28 non profit organisations which had various programs and activities, but had in common their grassroots work with Latino Americans living in the United States, and all were inspired by Freire. In 1984, Blanca Facundo wrote a critique of Freire's ideas and her own experiences using his methods (Freire-inspired programs in the United States and Puerto Rico: a critical evaluation. Available at

This is what she wrote on sharing:

Latinos and other minorities at the grassroots seldom found the time nor had the inclination to write about their experiences. That was seen as a "luxury." I consider that attitude as a serious mistake. Those who did write refused, for the most part, to share with people out of their programs what they had written, the stated reason being that others would be inclined to "copy" instead of creating their own processes and materials.
Our work has remained unrecognized in the larger world of the United States academia. Many useful results based upon field experience have been lost (…).


J’ai récemment parcouru le Web à la recherche de personnes ou de groupes qui appliquent les idées de Paolo Freire, fort proches de celles de la Constellation. Blanca Facundo est l’une de ces personnes. Elle a créé, à la fin des années 70, des programmes d’éducation pour les populations urbaines pauvres de San Juan, Porto Rico où elle est née. Puis, à partir de 1980 et pendant quatre ans, elle a coordonné 28 organisations sans but lucratif avec des programmes et des activités variés mais travaillant tous au niveau local avec la population latino-américaine des Etats-Unis, et tous inspirés par Freire. En 1984, Blanca Facundo écrit une critique des idées de Freire et de sa propre expérience basée sur ces idées (Freire-inspired programs in the United States and Puerto Rico: a critical evaluation. Available at

Voici ce qu’elle écrit à propos du partage :

Les minorités Latinos et autres au niveau local ne prenaient rarement le temps et n’avait pas l’envie d’écrire sur leurs expériences. Cela était considéré comme un «luxe». Je considère cette attitude comme une grave erreur. Ceux qui écrivaient refusaient, pour la plupart, de partager avec les gens de leurs programmes ce qu'ils avaient écrit, la raison invoquée étant que d'autres seraient enclins à "copier" au lieu de créer leurs propres processus et matériaux.
Notre travail est resté méconnu en dehors du milieu universitaire des États-Unis. De nombreux résultats utiles fondés sur l'expérience de terrain ont été perdus (...).
Comment by chandra nurhasz on September 7, 2010 at 3:57am
I agree with Lawan on 'sharing doesn't need to be writting, but writting .......
In case of Olivia, she has share a lot of things with me in term of work. I got a lot of data/docs that she have regarding the preparation of blended learning, another competence events, etc and even she's sharing and linking me with the person who in charge in the rental houses....:D.

So Olivia, keep sharing and also keep writting. This is a very nice blog post.
Comment by Lawan Vejapikul on September 6, 2010 at 2:20pm

Thanks to Phil for sharing about Olivia's Blog during the CST weekly meeting today which made me feel very interesting and want to read more....that's why I'm here reading your blog, Olivia!!! : )

I have some different thought about the 5th point that Phil just added about "Clumsy"

I think what makes "sharing" sometimes "scary" and "difficult" is the people you are going to share with!!!
The way you share and the way you formulate your sharing are always influencing by whom you want to share with!!

"Community response" is also the same, I think it is just depending on whom and what they want/need to response to!! If it is their own community, if they feel responsible, I believe that they will be happy to put their efforts someway, somehow!!

It's all about "Ownership" and "Senses of Belonging"

One volunteer lady from Pa Pong - Faith Based Center (Pa Pong Temple in Pa Pong Sub-District, Doi Saket District, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand) shared during the SALT Visit there; "When I learned something, I feel that it is my responsibility to share it with others and if I keep it only for myself, I feel that it is a sin!!"

Another idea when you mentioned that "Learning and Sharing" (in this context) requires us to take sometimes to do nothing when we will be able to reflect, sit down and write something (to share what we've learned)!!!

For me, I don't think "Learning and Sharing" is something that's happening when we are taking sometimes to do nothing but both are happening when we are taking sometimes "to act" or "to plan" for some actions!!

For me, I "share" only when I want to contribute on something....then, I share my ideas!!

For me, I "share" only when I learned something and I think that my learning can maybe benefits for someone else!!

For me, "sharing" doesn't need to be "writing"

Most of the time, I "share" by "talking" and "discussing" with people!!!

But of course, "writing" is one of the most powerful way we can "share wider" !!

I even sometimes feel that some people even feel more comfortable "to write" than "to talk" or "to say" it out loud because they can spend time (as long as they want) "to think", "to reflect" and "to review" their writing until they feel confident enough "to share" with others!!
Comment by Olivia Munoru on September 6, 2010 at 6:43am
Hi Phil,

Yes!... "clumsy" is a great way to describe the 5th challenge, and one I think many of us can identify with. Sometimes I sit at my desk, "reflecting" and I feel guilty, as if I am not doing anything! Like you say, our culture is one of always having to be productive, and it stops us from taking the time out to absorb or reflect on our learnings. At my previous job in Australia we had bean-bags and quiet rooms. They were places to read and reflect. It was so valuable, and made it easy to prepare one's thoughts.

You raise a good point about local response too, that facilitators have an important role in creating this atmosphere and space for communities to learn from their responses. You have got me thinking about this....... thank you!
Comment by Phil on September 3, 2010 at 10:39am

I read your post earlier in the week and I've been coming back to it since then. As Rituu said, if this is what comes from your writer's block, then that is fine with me. There are a lot of things that made sense to me here, I think it was the list of items that make sharing hard that I've been thinking most about.
As far as I am concerned, your list feels exactly right. If could add another one(!) that I find applying to myself, it is that the process of sharing in this context makes me feel so clumsy. So I haven't got the ideas straight in my head, I haven't thought out all of the possibilities and so I am struggling to put it down on 'paper' for other people to read. It all feels so clumsy. And it is hard to get comfortable with that.
But I think that your set of comments are relevant on a bigger scale than just sharing. When we encourage Local Response, we assert that communities can respond and act AND that they can learn from that response. And I think that all your comments apply to the learning process. Learning requires us to take a risk; it makes us vulnerable; it takes effort; it requires reflection; and it makes us feel clumsy.
And perhaps there is something that underlies all of these concerns. Many of us have been brought up with the idea, "Don't just sit there, DO SOMETHING!" The process of learning and sharing requires us to stop and to do 'nothing'. And so many of us are scared to find (or to find ourselves) doing' nothing'.
And so I think that we need to be mindful of these issues when we facilitate the Competence process.

Comment by Gaston on September 2, 2010 at 5:11am
Yeah! That's a cool blog and deep sharing. The fact that you pause, look inside and share your analysis is a powerful process for many obstacles. Your writing style is very captivating and human. I resonate especially with two points:
1. I sometimes do so many SALT visits with great experiences that I don't know where to start or what to write. I remember we did 21 SALT visits in 3 weeks once in Papua New Guinea. I could have written a page on each of those, but only managed a few...
2. Sharing something really personal can sometimes be easier to someone you really don't know. Someone you're sure of that he/ she won't tell it to your friends, family or people you know. But a person you trust fairly quickly. One of the first people I shared a very personal story to was a group of young men in Mt. Hagen, PNG. And it opened up a lot of sharing from their side which was the start of a strong local response to HIV.

Thanks for sharing Olivia.

and Rituu, bonne nuite!

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