Archive | September, 2012

Sarah J – the end of a secondment. What a start.

10 Sep

“In our day to day lives, if we say something but do something different it is usually our actions that people take note of.”

My secondment with ABC-Development setting up the first three months of our Kambia based pilot project has now come to an end. I feel sad that it’s over, thankful that I was able to have this inspiring, challenging, fun, busy three months, side by side with a very impressive partner organisation who I learnt a great deal from, and very excited to look ahead to the next steps, leaps and bounds of this project.

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you what we have been doing since the last blog and to step back and take stock of where we have come to since we started the project in April.

An update on what’s been happening  

The ABC team have been working hard with the communities on their project proposals -supporting them to think through the details of their activities and how they will address the problems they have identified, and agreeing how ABC and Children in Crisis will work together with the communities to support their projects and help them track their progress.

As part of the preparations for starting the community projects, training was delivered in August to the Community Management Committees (CMCs) who have been elected by the communities to oversee the project implementation. These committees are the community representatives and are responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the projects, managing the grants they receive, and reporting to the community and to ABC (and Children in Crisis).

The CMC training brought members together to build their knowledge, skills and capacity to fulfil their roles and responsibilities. The feedback from the CMC members was very positive and it provided a good opportunity for the members and the team to work even more closely together than usual and increase understanding of one another, thereby helping them to know how they can most fruitfully work together during the project.

Some of the facilitators from Maseba and Konta communities – after launch of full project

Taking Stock: Reflections on the project so far  

In our day to day lives, if we say something but do something different it is usually our actions that people take note of. For instance, if we say we love to read, but we spend all of our spare time playing computer games people would probably question whether we love to read as much as we love to play computer games. In development, the same principle can be applied. If we say we value the voices, knowledge and choices of the communities and children we work with, but when it comes down to it we ‘just decide this or finish that’ because it’s much quicker and easier for us, then it seems we don’t really value them that much.  And indeed, it can be challenging in the face of many demands that put time pressure on us not to sometimes take the ‘easier’ path.

At the risk of simplifying, this project is saying that it is community led and aims to empower communities to be better able to support their children’s education in ways they see as most effective; and so far what it is doing seems to reflect well what it is saying.  The Participatory Education Appraisal undertaken at the start of the project, enabled us to start as we mean to go on and to build a commitment to adhere to these principles in all our activities (which we appear to have generally succeeded in). Complementing and strengthening this has been ABC’s working ethos and approach –one where the voice, decisions, understanding of the communities, the relationship between ABC and the communities, and the sustainability of activities is always a priority.

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This is not to say that there have not been challenges and learning points, which of course there have. Challenges are to be expected and learning is good, it means we have the opportunity to get better. With a committed and problem solving team, challenges become opportunities for reflection and improvement.  And importantly, learning has been coming from all directions and in many forms –ABC, Children in Crisis, and the communities are all benefiting from each other’s experiences, knowledge and insight. Of course we are only five months in, which makes what we have learned so far (both of what has worked and what has not worked so well) even more essential to the rest of the project.

By all accounts it seems to have been a strong and exciting start to the project, and I hope that you will join Children in Crisis, ABC and the communities of Gbinleh Dixing Chiefdom on the rest of the journey.

We will continue to update the blog with news from the field and other project and partner related snippets and information so do continue to visit it!

Konta community working with their facilitators Jariatu & Gibril