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Shari Cohen

sharicohen@hotmail.com

 

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My Missing Piece

July 10, 2015

I have been working in the WASH sector since 2012, but if you ask me why I chose to work in the sector that I chose, you will be surprised to note that I didn’t know why, and never took time to ask myself why until I participated in a C4D learning lab, where I learnt the power of asking the question “why” – Thanks to UNICEF Malawi for sponsoring it.

 

In my work, there have been ups and downs. Sometimes I would achieve results and sometimes not. We could sit down as a technical team, devising solutions to the failures but it did not yield much. 

 

At times, I could harvest a great deal of outputs but in the long run, could not see much impact - the interventions and strategies used were not that sustainable and I wondered, where did I miss? This is a puzzle that has been there, with a missing piece that I couldn’t find.

 

With enlightenment from the C4D lab, it has opened my eyes and helped me discover my missing piece in the puzzle and that is “Umunthu”. I learnt that oftentimes implementers only use knowledge (from the head) to drive them into action, which is why we yield a great deal of outputs and less impact, not knowing that when you add feelings (from the heart) then you will yield a great deal of impact as well, attained through behaviour change.

 

I never knew the extra time investment through dialogue with stakeholders at every stage of the program - replacing “tokenism and consulting” - had the power for social change, to change people’s behaviour and empower them at the same time, which is what I needed for sustainable interventions/programs.

 

I had a single story of communities, taken from one angle, which shadowed my eyes from seeing their potential that could be employed for the benefit of my programs and change society for the better. 

 

If only I could take a 360 degree look at problems, with a dash of time investment through dialogue, my fails would turn into successes. Celebrations would no longer be short term for outputs, but long term through total behaviour change.

 

Today I stand here, sharing my story of change. A story that taught me that knowledge alone cannot lead to action. Only when you add your heart to it - feelings, passion - will you yield beautiful, sustainable results.

 

If my story has moved you….why not use Most Significant Change Stories (MSCS) in your programs as a tool to bring change?

 

Thank you.

 

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