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Shari Cohen

sharicohen@hotmail.com

 

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Our Projects

Pakistan: Creating Change Through Human-Rights-Based C4D

March 15, 2018

From September 2017 - March 2018, Change Makers embarked on a journey with the UNICEF Pakistan Country Office to create a Communication for Development (C4D) Toolkit and Quality Assurance Guidelines to support UNICEF partner organizations (Government of Pakistan and National NGOs) in learning about - and carrying out - their C4D work on a platform of human rights-based approaches. While not a formal Change Makers Learning Lab, this unique opportunity enabled Change Makers to harness their existing Learning Lab tools and re-imagine them in a 'Grab 'n Go' Toolkit format. Challenges and opportunities unique to the Pakistan context also allowed for new interpretations on our already tried and true session content. This work concluded with an in-country, four-day learning experience for 32 partners, but this is just the beginning for the Pakistan team. We look forward to seeing where the group goes from here!

Swaziland: Infusing HRBAs into Strategic Communication Plans (5-day)

March 30, 2017

From March 10-23, 2017, Change Makers was in Swaziland, infusing our human rights-based approaches to social change into the development of the UNICEF/Government of Swaziland's joint country program C4D Strategy.  Following an assessment last year, which highlighted the need for capacity building around C4D, in addition to the need for a strategy, the UNICEF team agreed to use the strategy workshop as an opportunity to build capacity of their team and partners around new ways to approach social change using the HRBA methodology that Change Makers has developed. 

A participant team of 32 people assembled in Piggs Peak, to spend 5 days learning how to incorporate HRBAs into their C4D/SBCC work, as well as putting together a draft C4D strategy that will pull together all the elements of this country program, which follows a life cycle approach, thus providing a holistic continuum onto which the team can build rights-based platforms of change. We look forward to following the team to see how the strategy unfolds over the next two years!

Kenya: Deepening C4D Learning & Skills (5-day)

April 30, 2016

Immediately following LL1 in November 2015, there was a mentoring and coaching phase between Change Makers facilitators and the LL1 participants, ensuring guidance and professional development as the new C4D facilitators began using their knowledge and skills from LL1. During this interim phase, UNICEF determined further capacity development was required to reinforce the learning from LL1.  A request was made to for a second follow-up C4D Learning Lab aimed at reinforcing and deepening the learning of the ToT team from LL1, while also adding new knowledge and skills to this dynamic young team in the areas of interpersonal communication and the ACADA Strategic Communication Planning Cycle. To that end, from 14-22 April 2016, Learning Lab 2 was held for 24 participants from LL1. 

Six out of the 24 participants volunteered to be part of the LL2 'Advance Team', which met from 14-17 of April, first in Nairobi for two days, then at the venue for another two days, preparing all the session support materials, setting up the venue for a Sunday evening kick-off session, and familiarizing themselves with the overall session content, which they were then responsible for co-facilitating with back-up support from the lead Change Makers facilitators. In this way, LL2 set up a core team of future C4D Learning Lab Team Leaders, with three participants in the Team Leader Advance Team, and 3 in the Learning Lab Organization and Preparation Team.  This also set the stage for the participants to begin to take over the management of, and facilitation of a Learning Lab with completely new content, thus deepening their skills even further than coming out of LL1.

The purpose of this learning lab event was to strengthen the capacity of Kenya’s new national C4D Facilitation Team around the areas of strategic communication planning using the ACADA Planning Cycle, thus improving the team’s overall interpersonal communication (IPC)[1] knowledge and skills to better enhance their ongoing capacity development efforts around C4D at all levels and in various sectors.  And as with LL1, this learning event utilized a creative blended learning process, with materials presented in active, participatory methods and modalities to enhance learning potential, as well as to infuse rights-based approaches throughout the learning event. This philosophy and approach provided the ability to stream seamless human rights-based approaches from HQ to country teams to partners to stakeholders.  All methods utilized in the learning labs were methods that participants can adapt in their own work with little to no additional training.

Kenya: Creating a National C4D Facilitation Team (10-day)

November 30, 2015

Change Makers Experiential Learning Labs, in collaboration with UNICEF Kenya’s C4D Section and the Ministry of Devolution and Planning (MoDP), hosted a C4D Training of Trainers Learning Lab (C4D ToT LL) in Naivasha, Kenya from November 1-13, 2015. The purpose of the capacity building event was to build a shared, common language, understanding and skills around the core elements of human rights-based C4D; with the ultimate goal of creating a national facilitation team that could propel human rights-based social change forward under the devolution process that is currently taking place throughout Kenya under the MoDP. The event was intentionally crafted as a two-week residential event to build in added elements of team building, and peer-to-peer co-learning between and amongst participants and facilitators. In addition, both UNICEF staff and their key partners - government of Kenya, NGO & FBO partners, and Institutes of Higher Learning - came together to build capacity as a unified national team, creating a C4D Facilitation Team that can work both within their respective sectors, as well as cross-sectorally to promote collaboration between and amongst sectors, particularly at the county and sub-county levels, where integration of programming is critical. 

Kenya: Developing a National Human Rights-Based C4D Faciliation Team (10-day & 5-day)

June 24, 2015

Change Makers Experiential Learning Labs are excited to be partnering with M&D Consulting, Inc. on a year-long journey together with UNICEF Kenya and their national partners, as we create a tailored approach to capacity building around rights-based Communication for Development (C4D). We will work with the country team in Narobi and nationwide county partners at all levels, creating a training-of-trainers (ToT) basic learning lab, as well as a structured off-shore mentoring and coaching program to nurture and support our colleagues as they use their new C4D wings to fly off in exciting directions. At the end of this exciting endeavor, Kenya will be the first-ever country to have a National C4D Facilitation Team that specializes in building capacity around C4D utilizing human rights-based approaches at every step of the way.  Stay tuned for updates on this country-wide capacity building adventure on our blog!

Malawi: Human Rights-Based C4D (5-day)

June 01, 2015

In June 2015, Change Makers conducted our first official 5-day Experiential Learning Lab within the UNICEF system, for the Malawi Country Office's C4D team and their key government and NGO partners. From July onward, the team's righs-based capacity building journey continues as our work with Team Malawi shifts from learning to action when we embark on a 'post-learning lab' phase of idenitfying the gaps around root causes of their most pressing issues - all while utlizing the rights-based C4D principles, approaches and tools they acquired during the June learning event. We will continue supporting Team Malawi until the end of 2015, through scheduled and as-needed remote mentoring around rights-based C4D practices.

 

We're so excited to see what deeper learning comes out of this event and its in-depth follow-up phases! Stay tuned for the recap at the end July.

Jordan: Introduction to C4D (5-day)

November 10, 2014

The UNICEF MENA (Middle East & North Africa) C4D workshop was held in Amman, Jordan in November 2014, and focused on bringing together for the first time, key UNICEF government partners from around the MENA region. This 5-day learning event combined two days of Change Makers Experiential Learning Lab sessions to familiarize participants with key human rights-based approaches to C4D, then shifted into learning around C4D using videos and stories from around the MENA region. There has been much documentation throughout this region around the key UNICEF focus areas, and participants valued the peer-to-peer learning that they experienced throughout the week. 

 

The shift from receptive participant to pro-active leaders in one's own learning event occurred on Day Two, when participants took the initiative to plan their own historical outing mid-week, thus rearranging the week's events to accommodate their own needs. This amazing group of partners really embodied the ideal of commitment to others, working under ever-changing and difficult circumstances on a daily basis, and with amazing grace. It was truly a humbling experience working with, and learning from our MENA colleagues.

Uzbekistan: Introduction to C4D (2-day)

September 15, 2014

The Uzbekistan Learning Lab was Changemakers’ first official event within the UN system. This two-day “mini lab” was an introductory overview to the key principles and concepts of Communication for Development or C4D (the UN’s name for human rights-based SBCC), and was meant as a “tasting menu” for a wide variety of UN partner agencies to come together as one communication team, to learn about the basic rights-based principles of C4D. The Learning Lab was a success in both laying the foundation for a shared understanding and common language that all UN communication staff can use when working on their respective programming; and more importantly, the event created new, and strengthened existing linkages and relationships for future interagency collaborative programming, thus upholding the tenant of “One UN” team, rather than disconnected UN agencies working in isolation around similar issues. 

 

Participants were very excited to learn about the Most Significant Change Stories approach to create a deeper awareness about, and response from communities around the key issues they are facing. We hope that this will be the first of a series of C4D Learning Labs for Team Uzbekistan!

Nepal: SBCC Learning Lab (5-day)

January 24, 2014

The Nepal event was our first full 5-day Learning Lab for the South Asia region. Team Nepal selected a wooded retreat – Gokarna Forest Resort – as their home for the week-long event. While the content remained similar to our Zanzibar event, we infused many of the sessions with a Nepali flavor, and the forest atmosphere provided a wooded camp-like environment, which in turn created deeper opportunities for team and relationship building amongst participants and the planning team. You know you’re in the birthplace of the Buddha when two days into the event, participants are talking about their own “self-realization” and start quoting Lao Tse to sum up the personal transformation taking place.

 

Participants were excited to learn about Community Dialogue and the power of storytelling for social change, to harness their natural observation skills by looking at situations from multiple perspectives and different points of view to better understand an issue, and learn what questions can help uncover the root causes of both harmful and healthful behaviors and social norms. 

Zanzibar: SBCC Learning Lab (5-day)

September 28, 2014

The Zanzibar SBCC Learning Lab was a full week-long event held in Nungwi Beach, a remote fishing village at the northern tip of the island of Zanzibar. Geographically, our participants for this event came from South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria, and included multi-unit staff teams from INGOs, as well as strong representation of young people representing local NGOs and CBOs from those countries. A conscious decision was made to hold this multi-country event in a neutral country, so that no one country team would carry the added burden of hosting duties, and thus, all participants could fully immerse themselves in learning before, during and after official sessions ended each day. The selection of a beach venue created the perfect environment for relaxed learning, country-specific and cross-country team building, and created deeper connections amongst the group, all in a camp-like atmosphere. This event covered all the basic elements of social and individual behavior change from a human rights-based approach, infusing every aspect of the event with rights-based participation that began with the facilitators and local planning team (with specific input from all participants via a pre-event learning needs survey) and continued on throughout the event with participatory monitoring and evaluation. 

 

Over the course of the week, participants started to take over their own learning through a variety of interactive, participant-driven components. This was a life-changing event for us, and our participants felt the same way.

Bangladesh: Introduction to SBCC Learning Lab (2 Day)

June 23, 2014

Our first Learning Lab was in Savar, Bangaldesh, where we used the MIT Media Lab’s creative learning principals and applied them to the Social and Behavior Change Communication sector, building off years of SBCC work done through UNICEF's C4D consultants consortium. Our participants came from a wide variety of INGOs, local NGOs, and government Ministry of Health staff representing the Reproductive Health sector; the format and style of learning was completely different to what they were accustomed to in previous workshops and trainings.

 

When asked if they wondered why the name of the event was “Learning Lab” and not the usual “workshop” or “training”, many participants noted that they were curious about it. After the closing ceremony, several participants mentioned that they finally understood why the word “learning” and “lab” were part of the event's name, and that they were excited to be learning about social and behavior change in a way that made more sense to them, compared to the usual expert-driven, top down, project-oriented workshops that are so common in the international development world. In addition, they went on to explain that they understood that the word ‘lab’ was a reference to the experimental nature of how learning was presented in a new way. 

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