Friday, July 11, 2014
The "great" and the "not great". Part 2
In KT village we are having a sort of wrestling match with one of the community leaders. He has not been around for much of the 2 years that our teams have done community mobilization and training, and each time he comes around he makes that he would like us to get on with do some big physical project or else get lost. This is also the village that would really benefit from the reforestation project, but the problem is no one in the community seems to have the goal to work together toward that project. I will try to get a chance this week to go out and visit with the big grumpy fellow, and explain to him that our funds are from one community (in a foreign country) to their community, and that he can help by getting his community mobilized around an activity or goal that will be a great development for all the community. At the moment he is fixated on a more drinking water wells in his part of the village, or expensive cement walls for flood prevention. It will be an interesting conversation.
This past week in the village I had a great talk with a couple of my local leaders about how we negotiate with community leaders when they have different plans/ideas than us. We thought of plenty of examples to reflect on and discuss what has worked and what has not. They gave me a really great and truly genuine compliment, saying that I have an effective way of managing angry or disgruntled people by cutting through all the blame game and going straight to agreements on common ground. I remembered the main conversation that they were commenting on. A group of 6 elders came to me and were ready to throw us out of the village. Some on my team are prone to being defensive, which is sort of an essential to this shame/honor culture. Rather than defending against the accusations they made against us, I cut to the quick and said, “I understand the problem you’re facing, and how hard it has made your lives. What we have tried to do together has not given the results that either of us hoped for. Now our goal is the same as yours: to improve that. We don’t need to argue, we need to find the next opportunity to work on this problem.” This week my staff told me that after 3 months the men still remember how I addressed them and turned a fight into a search together for a new solution. Like always, we seem to influence or impact people most when we’re not really thinking about it but just going through regular life. It’s great to get a compliment now and then and know you’re being understood, isn’t it?
We also heard some great things from the community of MZ this week. Our 3-year commitment to working in that community is up this fall, so we have been having some nice reflection times on what has gone on there. In the first 4 months the community did not trust our staff, would not guarantee their safety in their village, and paid little attention to the community mobilization and training that our facilitators would bring. Now nearly 3 years later our team that works there is accepted like close family there. Trainings are well attended, and the content and plans have gone much more into the hands of the community. They chose the knitting learning, for example. They also were great participants in the Birth Life Saving Skills course, both men and women, because they saw that our team really believed what they were teaching (one of those couples had their first baby during the time of the course). I am certain that this community will be said to let us go this fall. This is not “great” in a way, but it is, in another!
Posted by ATB at 8:25 PM