Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Community Development Training in Kitunguru

We have taken our Community Development training on the road, about 30 km. down the road to a couple of places called Kitunguru and Nyarygonga, both rural areas that are part of Kinoni Health Center IV outreach. Each day enroute we see several pairs of crested cranes, Uganda's national bird, by the side of the road. I think they must have taken up residence in this area. This morning as we were heading out I saw an Abyssinian lilac breasted roller flitting form tree to tree outside our door. He was here last year but this is the first I have seen of him this year.

The workshop training aids are not yet all translated, at least the posters aren’t, so I mistakenly assumed the trainers would do without posters and just teach in the vernacular. Not so, as I quickly find out with presentations heavily laced with English. I have been provided with a translator so I can now track everything that is said by participants and facilitators, theoretically at least. More about that later, but what I do hear, is not reassuring, so I request my translator, Evelyn, do some translations of the English posters into Lunyankole. It quickly becomes a group effort, as the phrases are eased in Lunyankole. Why didn’t I pick up on the need for them to do it collaboratively earlier? I wonder later. One of the trainers who appeared to be avoiding doing it earlier, is now the one who seems to be doing most of the refinement of phrase. As a result, the translations seems to go quickly and we have not one but two posters translated. One for the points of Active Listening and one for the key parts of Feedback.

With the vernacular posters in place, the air is peppered with a whole lot fewer English words. this seems particularly important since very few of the community based health workers speak any English. We have never been able to manage any back translations of the Lunyankole for reasons I have been unable to penetrate. I suspect I have not yet convinced anyone of how important back translations are. Yesterday when we were using cards for an exercise with both languages, several trainers said they couldn’t understand what one or two cards meant. So clarity of translations is a real, ongoing issue. I have asked for the whole exercise to be checked so the discrepancies can be identified. And I wonder how often it happens. Again and again, I suspect.

By noon the tin roof of the room where we are holding the workshop has heated up and it is stifling inside so we take the Action Steps of Development session outside. We have difficultyin attaching the rice bags to the rough surface of the wall but finally get it up. The session is about half way thru when dark clouds bring in a tropical storm which lashes down with fury on the tin roof. The cacophony that results makes it impossible to hear someone sitting beside you. The whole group sits quietly on the wooden benches waiting for the storm to subside.

I notice the trainers seem more energized at these community workshops than they were at the Training of Trainers workshop. They have a real gift for drawing out responses and tapping into the energy of the volunteers. They recognize when participants haven’t quite got the message. I am more concerned that they include lots of interactive exercises and eye-opener moments, as they call them, while they are in a sort of turned-on performance mode. The Action Steps rice bags also need to be translated. But for this, I have a handout in both languages prepared for now.

We have a couple of small prizes for the best group report and the best feedback. There is animated competition for them and great delight in the winning of them, although some of the items, such as a cloth, fold-up version of a Frisbee, need to be explained. Delight, that indeed is the appropriate word.

This group of government volunteer health teams includes all of our previous community based health workers in the area, most of whom have been with our project for more than five years. We have a retention rate of 85% over the five years among our volunteers and perhaps more surprisingly, they all continue to spend considerable time doing their volunteer health education work. Training, which we have provided annually for them, has been a potent motivator. They take it seriously and enjoy it. It has done a lot for their confidence and skills. I like to think it is because the training is relevant, useful and empowering. I can’t be sure this is so, but I notice attendance at the workshop has been increasing each day and I suspect it has something to do with the training provided.

Photos: Action Steps outside; lilac breasted roller; under the mbati roof; using pictures



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