Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Team Building Training In Uganda

We are headed out to the village in Bwezibwera in Southwestern Uganda for a day of Team Building. The Ministry of Health is launching a nation-wide program of Volunteer Health Workers (VHW). In the parishes where our child health training project works, many of our volunteers have been chosen as VHW. As our volunteers have been trained and working for five years and have formed cohesive groups that are proud, self-reliant and active, many are not sure they want to give up this identity and the connection with our NGO project. This is despite the fact that funding has drawn to a close so it looks like our project may be coming to an end. This has resulted in them thinking of themselves as better than and apart from the other government volunteers. We are concerned this may affect team work as VHWs and want them to start to work together as a group, hence the Team Building day.

We are out early in the crepuscular light of early dawn. The red murram village roads take us past milk cans being collected and tied on the backs of bicycles for delivery or waiting by the road for transport to larger centers. Local sales appear to be part of it too. Milk is plentiful here in Ankole. African Tea is almost half milk, my favourite breakfast drink.

We are weaving our way over and around the hills. At one small widening of the road, the driver finds out the trainers we were meant to collect are elsewhere and we trace our way back to the health center. While we are stopped, I am able to photograph people winnowing peanut shells after the peanuts are passed whole thru a grinder. The whole operation is set out on a grass mat by the side of the road, stunning in its simplicity. I have seen such tableaus before but never knew what was being ground. My African colleagues identify it right off, so distinctive the equipment. It makes me aware of how much else I look at but don’t really see.

We arrive at Mirongo at 9:00 am and there are about 30 volunteers already gathered. They trickle in over the next two hours and by 11:00 there are 83. They arrive by foot or bicycle, climbing up over the crest of the hill, many of them delayed by the need to dig in their shambas before the sun gets high in the sky as it is the rainy season and digging must be done in the early hours. About 20 of the group gathered are our volunteers, the rest are newly appointed to the volunteer health worker role by the government.

We use a variety of interactive exercises. The five trainers each take one group and change groups after each exercise. At the end of the day, one of the participants who is new to such training, says in awe, “We didn’t come with pens and paper but we have learned a lot.”

Another says, “I thought we were not getting the same teaching in each group, but I can see from the feedback that we have all learned the same things.”

It is exciting to work with people new to participatory methods. They are so keen and eager and seem to have Eureka moments at every other turn. The Picture Puzzles we have used seem particularly effective. Each person is given one piece of the puzzle and told to find others to make a picture. Some are active, circling the groups, holding their own picture piece up high for all to see. Others hang on to their own piece afaid to let it go,hoping others will find them. The pictures we use are bright and colourful photos of our local area of calender photos of West Africa. Not many of them have worked with puzzle pieces before so even when they find others that seem similar there is time spent in making it fit together.

Our facilitators are skilled, especially at holding the energy and enthusiasm in large groups. Many lessons about how to find a group, how to locate others like you so you can create a picture together and how the overall picture is much more obvious when the pieces are fit together, are readily made in this exercise.

A question in the feedback highlights that someone did not understand a lesson in an exercise and they easily review it for the whole group. It has been a totally successful launch to the Team Building training. In the car on the way back home we hold our facilitators’ meeting and decide we will introduce some community development exercises as well in the next training. And everyone agrees we are off to a good start.

Photos: milk cans ready for pickup; winnowing ground nut shells & putting the puzzle together.



Post a Comment

<< Home

Add this blog to my Technorati Favorites!