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Shari Cohen

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The Change Within

July 8, 2015

I am Alick, I am a civil servant of the Republic of Malawi in the Ministry of Information Tourism and Culture. I have been working in this Ministry for the past five years now (in different capacities) on various information portfolios.

 

My work centers much on civic education and message development. I usually go out in the communities to encourage the adoption of positive attitudes for the transformation of people’s lives. I guide them on the best ways of life which include family planning, sending the girl child to school and even condomizing. That’s some of the messages I put across. In my messages I sometimes put a hint of threat - if you don't adopt this you will die.

 

I write success stories based on established indicators of the project that I am implementing, although I do not know who crafted the indicators or what criteria was used.

 

My work demands a lot of networking and collaboration with various partners like UNICEF C4D officers. These partners do not only assist us financially, but also with technical understanding of some terms relating to C4D. Even though the C4D approach is new a phenomenon to us, I have been boasting about it among my colleagues although I am not much competent in its application. In most cases I claim to have used the C4D approach although I am not quite sure whether the communication interventions employed belonged to C4D.

 

When I got an invitation to the C4D Training Lab, I was in a dilemma. It was difficult to decide whether to participate or not as I assumed that I already knew a little bit of C4D. 

 

The humble beginning of the training exacerbated my appetite and gave me a reason to stay on. Even the quality, presentation style and informative nature of the topics encouraged me and gave me an extra motivation. I was hooked over by the historical narrative of all communication approaches. I felt inadequate when I was introduced to some approaches like the Appreciative Inquiry Approach of Communication.  I compared myself before the training to how knowledgeable I am now. 

 

The sessions provided a platform to shift from “business as usual” communication to practical human-based approaches. The presentations baptized me with knowledge to realize that we Africans often adopt some approaches and terminologies without necessarily asking ourselves, ‘why are we supposed to use them?’

 

The training exposed and fully acquainted me with knowledge to realize that change is possible with minimal resources because what matters most is change within us as implementers. I was enlightened by the concept of Umunthu, which can transform the dilapidating status of our communities to social and economic empowerment, injecting a 'power walk' to the vulnerable.

 

The lessons that were presented were not only based on theoretical approaches, but proved to be scientifically and practically tested. The manifestation from intriguing to inspiring human-based video clips has provoked the urge of ‘want to do it’ in me.

 

The topics throughout the sessions were lively and punchy. The Power of Five Why’s approach in doing self assessment motivated me most among all of the approaches.  The self assessment on why I do the work I do strikes a soul searching answer that brings out the real self of an individual to realize that knowledge, coupled with feelings, can spur action for change.

 

Needless to say, the 360 degrees involvement spins and exposes the poor approach of telling a story of somebody else, which defeats the personal empowerment and impact of letting a person tell their own story. The Most Significant Change Story approach enhances the 3Hs plus the 5 Whys format - the latter with its inverted pyramid style.

 

All in all, the training provided me with a shaping knowledge of knowing the usefulness of 'non- negotiable' tools versus 'deal breakers' within the C4D approach. I am a changed person now, and I am most eager to infect my colleagues with this spirit of change for the good of all. 

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