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Shari Cohen

sharicohen@hotmail.com

 

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Stories of Change

 

Below is a selection of stories of change from our participants around the world.

"Moving back to Malawi – after spending 6 years abroad I was very confident that I had developed excellent skills to work in development. I had come back with this passion that I was going to do whatever it takes to bring about positive change for those that need it most in Malawi, even if it is just one person. I fought my parents to let me pursue a career in development – one that they felt would not be financially stable. I won that fight and began to intern with an organisation for which I now work with. But I felt like my passion was beginning to dwindle and my outlook was beginning to change. What most people don’t tell you is all the bureaucracy that comes with working in development. The focus shifts from what is the best way to help the most disadvantaged to how much money are “we” going to get and how to tip toe around controversial issues so as not to make a scene. I felt like it was going to be much harder to do something to bring about change. The hoops we had to jump through were too many and in some cases we just kept hitting walls. Everyone seemed more concerned about themselves and not the reasons why they were doing the work they do.

 

What really changed for me this week is the simple yet very much missed concept that CHANGE BEGINS WITH US. If we don’t live the principles we advocate for what gives us the right to preach them to others? And so I began thinking about how I can apply this to the work I can do. The process made me realise that I had forgotten my passion and that was why I was having a hard time truly putting my heart into my work. I realised that I wasn’t using my stubborn and persistent nature in the work that I do. I wasn’t fighting for what I believed in and I was just falling into “business as usual”.

 

This workshop taught me that it only takes one small shift to initiate change and not a large-scale expensive intervention. That is what this workshop did for me. It helped me realise the importance of aligning my personal values and principles with my work values and principles, and vice versa. It also gave me a tool to be able to help others understand this. This realisation was the small shift in heart that will lead to the story of my success."                                      

Dhrutika Vansia

Lilongwe, Malawi

"My name is MORRIOR, I come from UMUNTHU village. Let me tell you a bit of our family. My father’s name is HEAD and my mother’s name is HEART. Together they have 3 HANDS.

 

I am the first born in a family of three girls. Our second born is HRB (Human Rights-Based), and the last born we normally call her Parti (her full name is PARTICIPATION). I am told that all our names have meanings, and that we take our names from our great grandfather who was normally referred to as “THE PRINCIPAL”. But his real name was C4D.

 

I have grown in a family of VALUES. When we all reached the age of 10, our parents took us to an initiation ceremony. Here is where life began. When we arrived, I met the most wonderful Initiators in CYNTHIA and SHARI. The ACADA initiation process was long but I soon realized that I was never alone. I had found the best of friends in CDM (Community Dialogue Model) and AI (Appreciative Inquiry). The two helped me to understand that in order for me to change, I must KNOW and FEEL. My sister HRB was also enlightened that she is not only a rights holder but also a duty bearer.

 

I am now 20 years old and have some good news to share. I have just attained my degree in STORYTELLING. I have also found a new boyfriend his name is MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE. I know that my parents will be proud of me because soon I will be able to bear them a lot of BRIGHT STARS.

 

I am MORRIOR – A MOTHER and a WARRIOR."                                 

Blessings Nkhata

Blantyre, Malawi

"Ever heard of C4D?  It is a UNICEF baby.  This was the first impression I had when heard about C4D.  C4D is translated as 'Communication for Development', an approach used to communicate in development activities. 

 

This week I have learnt that development is for all of us.  I was privileged to be one of the participants for a week-long C4D Learning Lab organised by UNICEF at Annie’s Lodge in Zomba.  C4D has been a talk of the week, ably facilitated by two consultants, Shari and Cynthia.  C4D is a rights based approach towards development activities.  What does this mean? It means that all interventions that an organisation does puts the community at the centre of everything.  The people in the community are the rights holders, while us implementers are the duty bearers.  It has been a good learning experience. 

 

The Learning Lab was indeed a laboratory, looking at the set-up, all the creative materials, inspirational video clips, rich discussions, simulation exercises, you name it, was all fabulous.  The Learning Lab reached the prime stage when the facilitators introduced the ACADA process.  I said I am not an M&E person…It looked difficult...but easy to understand.  Yes, I can confess I now know the ACADA process. It is possible, was my final say.  I can do it, from now on this will be my approach towards work, and indeed this can be applied even to my daily life activities. 

 

It has been an eye opener learning the 3Hs, the 5 whys, the 360 degrees, triangulation, and the Umunthu approach – which has been taken for granted.  I will go out to the community a changed person who will treat the community in professional manner.  I have learnt not to judge before applying the 360 degrees.  I have never been in a community dialogue session before, but the Learning Lab put me in that dialogue and the experience was good and uplifting.  This is my most significant change story.  It has been a process for me to be where I am now, equipped with C4D knowledge.  The knowledge gained will surely be put into practice; the knowledge will be shared with colleagues in the office. More especially the knowledge gained will be practiced in the community, yes, as I work with those rights holders.  It is possible to bring change, and with C4D, change can happen with our communities."                                                                                          

Rose Kamanga

Malawi

"Through the Learning Lab, I now know that getting the buy-in of the communities is not enough, but having them to be part of the planning & implementation as well as project evaluation. This will ensure sustainability. The different methods of participatory RM&E became clearer to me at the learning lab and I appreciate the relevance in my work. The power of why (5 whys) & root cause analysis also became very much clearer to me. Our trainings have also been impacted by the experiences gained at the learning Lab.

 

We incorporate more group work, group activities, scenarios, stories & videos into the adult learning principles we have been using since experiencing this training. The use of audio-visuals, the varieties of 'VIPP cards'  and stationery are also experiences gained from our learning lab. The training also impacted on my interpersonal skills as well as professional skills as a trainer.

 

A great networking was enhanced with other teams too!"

Anonymous

Zomba, Malawi

"I came to Zanzibar with my key. . .that cold metal in my wallet that reminded me of everything I so desperately want to forget, but have not been able to. That key belonged in my past, but it hangs heavily like a shadow in my present.

 

Six years ago that key opens my family home down south. My family - my husband of 8 years and two adorable kids, that make all the pains fade into nothingness, most times at least!  One sunny, humid day in March of 2007, he changed the locks of our home, and locked me and the kids out of his life. I have not been able to take anything out of that house and I have not looked back ever-since. I thought I had put the emotions in the past, until Cynthia asked that we use the key to open the door to patience, forgiveness, commitment etc., then the ice in my heart melted. . .I guess the key opened the door to my tear-drums as well. But more importantly, it made me realize I still hung on to something that represented unhappiness in my life; a luggage I have hauled along for years, some clouds that never cleared in my 'skies' even when it was sunny. I threw the key into the blue water beach of Nungwi village, and am happy Zanzibar holds such sun-shiny memories for me. Am up and running now, never looking back!"

Anonymous

Abuja, Nigeria

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