Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Update on The “Mercedes Arias” Solidarity and Social Transformation School for the formation of community leaders

This year 2014 the CIS’s Network of Communities are making a very important effort on human development.  We have started The “Mercedes Arias” Solidarity and Social Transformation School for the formation of community leadersThe goal of this effort is to develop a group of leaders made up of 30 people (20 woman and 10 men) from the Community Network, Water Committees, and the Scholarship Program.  The school is designed so that the workshops are reproduced by the leaders in their local organizations.  It will be a multiplying team. 

The school is set up for seven months from January to July.  The topics are as follows: power, leadership, community organization, environmental contamination, access for woman to comprehensive health care, conflict transformation and solidarity.
All of these topics are prepared with a methodology that allows us to take a step back and examine how we are doing currently.  It is done in a way that each participant reflects on the topic from his/her reality.  We are going to look deeper into our groups in the communities.  Our orientation is that, as leaders, we should be actors and not spectators.  Change should first come from us.

The Methodology

We are working with a facilitator’s guide that is based in popular education.  Some of the material comes from what we worked on last year with an intern and other material is from Equipo Maíz.  We include techniques like role play, energizers, music, etc. We have participation guidelines for the workshops.  The truth it is a space where there is a lot of participation.
The people in charge of the school are some of the grassroots organizers. The participants are given a snack, lunch, and bus fair.  The workshops take place from 9:00am-3:00pm.  At each workshop the participants are give a Facilitator’s Guide so that each of them can put on the workshop in their respective communities.
After the first workshop on power, the leaders reproduced the workshop in five different municipalities.  Some of the comment that emerged was many people saw power as just being something from above that politicians have.  One woman said, “I had never heard people talk about power from below.  The ability that each an every one of us have…now I feel more important.”   On the topic of leadership one youth said “I see myself as a paternalistic leader.  I thought I was doing things the right way, but now I realized I have to change my attitude about my leadership.”  Another man said, “in leadership, honesty is very important.”
As a team we are satisfied with the work.  We think that after the workshops we will see important changes because we see that the participants have the will to change.

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