Archives

A group photo of training participants with the resource person, Syed Ali Moazzam and the team of Community World Service Asia.

What is social mobilization? Social mobilization is the primary step of community development for recovery from conflicts and disasters. It allows people to think and understand their situation and to organize and initiate action for their recovery with their own initiative and creativity[1]. Through mobilization, people can organize themselves to take action collectively by developing their own plan and strategy for recovery rather than being imposed from outside. It is essential to understand the basic idea of social mobilization and its uses before practically implementing it.

Advocating the mobilization and participation of communities at all levels of project interventions, Community World Service Asia recognizes that project and field staff in the humanitarian and development sector must be equipped with adequate skills and expertise on how to interact with communities and build relations of long-lasting trust with them. To further this cause, Community World Service Asia, held and conducted a four-day training on “Essentials of Social Mobilization” for local level organizations in Murree, Pakistan, in early August. Twenty-seven participants from ten organizations participated in this training.

The training introduced the various social mobilization skills required to motivate communities to bring about positive and sustainable changes in their society by building opinion on social issues. The opportunities and challenges faced by development workers were outlined and skills were enhanced on communication, conflict resolution, decision-making and problem solving to work more effectively with communities.  The training elaborated on organizational policies to ensure inclusion of the marginalized segment of society especially to promote women participation in all processes of social mobilization. Participants developed skills to devise organizational strategies by engaging people to take ownership of their issues and resolve them by using local resources.

The prime focus of the training was to strengthen the capacity of local level organizations directly engaged in community mobilization and on-ground development initiatives. In the needs assessment, most of the participants showed interest in learning how to draft social mobilization strategies, using Participatory Rapid Assessment (PRA) tools, practicing effective communication skills, conflict resolution and how to identify local issues to advocate for social change. They also expressed an interest in enhancing their leadership skills to ensure effective social mobilization and women participation in the development process.

Once the participants for the training were finalized, they were included in all processes of the training design; from conceptualization to designing and activity planning. A training baseline survey was also conducted to learn about participating organizations’ policies, strategies and programs related to social mobilization and understand their organizational limitations and priorities.

Practicing the blended learning approach, the participants were divided in groups and given assignments. This exercise gave them the opportunity to learn by sharing experiences. A panel discussion was also held in which specialists selected from among the groups, with relevant experience, highlighted issues pertaining to lack of women empowerment. The purpose of this activity was to promote peer learning and sharing of contextualized best practices through open discussions, one-on-one talks and formal presentations among various organizations.

Key Learnings

The session on Participatory Rapid Assessment (PRA) allowed knowledge building on PRA tools including Focus Group Discussion, Key Informant Interview (KII), Social Mapping, Seasonal Calendar and transect walk. In a group activity, participants were divided in two teams. Both teams were assigned to work on different PRA tools. Team A worked on the transect walk, social mapping and KII, while team B’s task was to work on drafting a seasonal calendar by interviewing local people and conducting FGDs with a selected group of people. The teams performed actively and presented their work. The resource person identified some gaps and explained the tools for further clarity.

Another major need highlighted by the social mobilizers was to learn about the strategies and skills to overcome conflicts, communicate effectively in the community, enhance skills for effective conflict resolution, and trust building among communities.

Through adopting  various interactive learning methodologies, participants identified the many challenges faced regarding power dynamics, balanced inclusion and participation while working in the community and learnt how to overcome those through conflict management, conflict resolution, effective communication strategies and different styles of leadership according to situations and people needs.

Muhammad Taj, with 25 years of extensive experience working with Sungi Development Foundation on social mobilization, shared his practical experiences and strategies to motivate people and communities to realize challenges and try to resolve their issues collaboratively with the support of local organizations. The training facilitator further encouraged participants to work on devising policies and strategies on social mobilization and provide guidelines to field workers on how to mobilize people to speak about their issues and work together with them on realizing their basic fundamental rights.

Steps ahead

Participants developed organizational action plans, chalking out the roadmap for implementing the learnings of the training. They plan to share their respective action plans with their organizations.

[1] UN Habitat

It’s August 19th[1], and it is time for us to celebrate and recognize the brave souls who risk their lives in the in the way of humanity.  These individuals put those in need before themselves irrespective of the dangers and adversities they may face in the process. This World Humanitarian Day, as celebrated globally, builds on the momentum of the #NotATarget campaign spearheaded by the UN and followed by the global humanitarian community last year.

Each one of us has the ability to inspire others to do good; may it be through our words or through our actions. Some of us inspire people more than others and touch the lives of those around them with positivity, care and endless empathy. Today, we share stories of some of the most inspiring and relentless humanitarian workers we know.

Shahida Sarwar, in the field of humanitarian response and rehabilitation since 2006, has passionately been working for the progress of the local communities in her hometown of Mansehra. Shahida has committed all her energy and time into ensuring she provides the best and most accountable emergency relief services as well skill development opportunities to the people she serves so that they can benefit from being equipped with sustainable livelihoods. Shahida is currently employed with Helping Hand for Relief and Development, an NGO working in Pakistan.

Recalling one of her more traumatizing experiences in her professional life, Shahida said,

 I was working for World Vision in District Mansehra in 2010. We were working on an emergency response project for local communities. On a Wednesday morning, ten unknown masked men attacked the World Vision office. I lost seven colleagues that day. I was among the injured and got seven stitches on my forehead. We were left helpless, traumatized and frightened. This incident did not break my courage and motivation towards helping others. Taking this incident as a gift of a second life, I stood up strong again and was even more determined than ever to help and work with the underprivileged children, women and men in the area. As a social mobilizer today, I believe I have a vital role of conveying the message of humanity and that humanitarian workers are #NotATarget. We are here to help, not harm anyone. The smiles I see in the communities I work with makes me feel honored and content.
This humanitarian day, my message is that we all need to join hands with humanitarian workers working endlessly around the globe to foster empowerment, prosperity and help improve the lives of those in need.

Jhaman Das Parmar, a post-graduate in Sociology, has been working in the development sector in Sindh since 2012.

I have been working with various local and national organizations in Taluka[1] Chachro, Tharparkar district. Helping communities in Tharparkar is my motivation to work.

Sharing one of his experiences, Jhaman said,

In Kankayo village of Taluka Chachro, the community was very conservative and rigid with organizations who came to help people in the village. This was due to many prevailing myths and misunderstanding about the role of NGOs in the region. Many of these communities faced innumerable social and economic challenges including malnutrition, night blindness, illiteracy and limited access to appropriate healthcare, especially for women. Working as a Social mobilizer with AWARE, I was determinate to bring change in Kankayo. When I first visited the area, the villagers clearly refuse to talk to me and stopped me from entering their village.

Jhaman decided to start his work from a small neighborhood, whose people were more welcoming and progressive as compared to the other nearby villages.

The neighborhood had seven homes where I initially held meetings. I explained the importance of water schemes and education of children to the residents of these households. The elders in the neighborhood realized that I was not coming to them for my interest, but to make progressive development in their village. After three months of frequent meetings, the elders approached the village people about the changes I spoke about. Being influential figures, the elders were able to convince the villagers to allow AWARE to work in their village for their development. Our team, including myself, held sessions and implemented project interventions. We set up Solar Powered Water Schemes and constructed schools, equipped with furniture, good infrastructure and computers in the village. Today, that village is considered as a model village and other villages have themselves requested for our organization’s assistance.
On this humanitarian day, my message is to pledge to help others without fearing hurdles.”

Nadia Riasat, Senior Program Officer at Community World Service Asia, shared her experience of facing hurdles while working on an aid distribution project.

 Working as Program Coordinator on Adult Basic Education Society (ABES) in district Mianwali of Punjab, we provided aid assistance to the victims of floods in the years 2010, 2011 and 2014. Communities were forced to leave their homes with limited belongings. These communities lived in camps with limited access to clean water, sufficient food, proper healthcare and hygienic environment. Through our emergency relief projects, we provided aid assistance to these vulnerable communities. All the project staff assembled the food and non-food items according to the number of beneficiaries shortlisted. Only my male colleagues went to the communities for aid distribution. Many of my fellow humanitarian workers were often mobbed during the aid distribution, as the number of expected project participants present would exceed the initial anticipated number. Some of my colleagues would return with minor injuries and ripped clothes. Humanitarian workers have faced various incidents of intentional or unintentional violence in this part of the world. Despite these challenges, we do not stop helping the people in need, as we know their needs are far greater than the risks we face.
Today, I call out to support all humanitarian workers who are working for the benefit of vulnerable communities by putting their lives at risk. Let’s pledge to be part of this chain and continue to work with commitment to help and save others.

Humanitarian aid is, at its best, a reflection of the notion that whatever our differences and disagreements, people can still recognize and affirm each other’s fundamental humanity. Aid workers put their lives on the line not to exert political leverage but to practice humanity by helping those in need, irrespective of their class, creed, gender, race or religion.

[1] The UN general assembly designated 19 August as World Humanitarian Day (WHD), in memory of the 22 colleagues killed in the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad

[1] A tehsil (or taluka) is an administrative sub-division of a District.

Teachers demonstrating lesson on child motivation, appreciating a teacher for her work.

“One can never learn enough”, it is often said and heard. The same applies to teachers; teaching and learning is a continuous process that goes hand in hand. Learning new methods and understanding the process of teaching leads to better teaching practices.

Passionate teachers understand that the greatest benefit of trainings to them is the large number of additional skills they acquire, allowing their lessons and classrooms to be more interactive, interesting and informative for their students.

For many teachers, making a positive difference in the lives of students is most valuable – the feelings of self-satisfaction as you watch your students grow and succeed due to your hard work and dedication in the field. To give an opportunity for such teachers to continue feeling valued, Community World Service Asia organized and conducted a five-days master teachers’ training on pedagogical & training skills under the Girls Education Project supported by partners, Act for Peace, in Sindh province, Pakistan.

After successfully completing three teacher training cycles on pedagogical skills in the Thatta district of Sindh, this training was categorized as an advance level for those teachers already trained. The five-day sessions aimed to strengthen teachers’ capacities on adult learning, teaching methods, professional teaching standards and lesson planning on daily, weekly, monthly and basis.

Twenty-five teachers from twenty government primary schools of Thatta participated in this workshop.  As a training of trainers of sorts, the purpose of this workshop was for teachers to develop specific expertise on developing model lessons and classrooms and further mentoring teachers in their respective schools on quality teaching methods and techniques.

Sessions on adult learning theory, types of learning styles and creative teaching methods were conducted for teachers where they were also specifically guided on ways to address learning needs of students as per their dominant learning style. Moreover, the need and importance of lesson planning was emphasized in the training sessions as it was realized that teachers often overlooked that and did not recognize the many benefits of this activity.  The teachers were taught on how to develop lesson plans at different stages of their yearly activities.

During the training, the teachers’ skills on class observation tools, reporting and delivering model lesson in schools was enhanced with a particular objective of increasing class participation and students’ involvement in practical learning. As part of the five-days workshop, the 25 teachers were taken on a field visit to a government primary school in Thatta. As one of activities, participants were required to observe teaching methods at the host school and record their observation on the checklist provided by the facilitator. Teachers also observed practical and learning environments seen in different classrooms and later discussed and delivered group presentations on the gaps recorded during the visit. One key observation from the field was that since there was no lesson planning, the lessons lacked clarity of flow and were ineffective and uninteresting for the students.

Teachers, with the support of the trainers, were asked to develop “model lessons” on the gaps observed during the field visit and deliver them as part of a group exercise. Some of the topics presented by the teachers included child motivation; classroom managements; and less responsiveness by teachers. Participants also developed action plans as part of the exercise, to implement active and practical learning in their schools. As a follow up to the training, the graduate master teachers planned to conduct these “model lessons” in their respective schools and would share its calculated impact with the facilitators of this training.

As a concluding sessions on the training’s final day, Rubab Shah, Tallaqua Education Officer (TEO) Thatta, awarded certificates to all the participants of the five-day teachers workshop and appreciated their participation as they shared their learnings with her. Rubab Shah further expressed,

These innovative trainings on pedagogical and training skills have been very significant in delivering quality orientated lessons using interactive methods.  I am glad to say that I have noticed visible changes in classrooms post such trainings as teachers have developed low cost learning material with and for the students.

Teachers’ Voices:

“I am happy to attend this training as I have acquired new knowledge that will help me in becoming a good teacher. The best part of the training was its methodology and taking us on a school visit and then helping us in developing model lessons. I was a bit hesitant in delivering lessons as a master teacher in front of all other teachers but the facilitators encouraged me and I delivered complete lessons successfully.” Seema, Primary School Teacher at Government Girls Primary School (GGPS) Muhammad Hanif Khushk.

“I believe such teachers’ training help a lot in improving classroom environments. Its adding to my experience as we get new opportunities to learn from other teachers’ experiences by interacting with them. The action planning section will help us immensely in improving our lesson planning and managing classes effectively.” Nasira Parveen, Primary School Teacher at Government Girls Primary School (GGPS) Jeelani Muhalla School.

“I’m grateful to the facilitators as I learnt new ways of improving learning and delivering quality lessons. I learnt classroom observation, lesson planning and interactive methods with students. I will apply this learning in my class and share with fellow teachers in my school.” Noor Jahan M. Baqar, Primary School Teacher at Government Girls Primary School (GGPS) Ali Muhammad Jokhio