Today I attended a meeting of community activists from Kivulini. In their SASA! program, Kivulini trains 40 community members to take active roles in their districts to prevent, mitigate and resolve domestic and other forms of violence as it concerns women and children. The community activists meet each month to report on their progress and give feedback to Kivulini.
I really enjoyed the meeting today, even though I could only understand bits and pieces. I learned a lot of new words that I wouldn't normally hear in general conversations (i.e. court, resolution, cases, successes, referral), which is always good for my language acquisition. More than that, though, I was struck by how universal these issues are. The challenges that confronted me in my violence prevention work in the States are the same as those here. Admittedly, it's a totally different scale and there are greater hurdles here. But I just felt so at home in the meeting because I understood what the activists were talking about, even if I didn't understand all the words they were using.
Today I also found myself thinking about the skills that are necessary to be a good group facilitator. I often have a hard time pin-pointing what I'm good at because as a social worker my skills are so broad. I'm not an engineer or a doctor who is trained in a specific skill set. So I think I tend to overlook the skills that I have acquired through training and practice. Today I realized that I think I'm a pretty good facilitator. I have the ability to bring groups of people together, tease out various ideas, and bring it all toward a common concept. As a facilitator, I try to utilize the thoughts and ideas of my participants and keep the conversation interesting to them. I crack jokes, bring in relevant news or media, and just try to have fun with it.
I say all this because I was sitting in the meeting today realizing that I'm a hell of a long way from being able to be a competent facilitator here in Tanzania. In fact, I don't know if I'll ever be competent enough in Swahili to be even an adequate facilitator. The thought of this saddens me a little because I get such joy out of it. So, I continue to pray about and wait to see how my skills will be used here in this place that is so different and yet so similar to my own.