Be ready for changes.
Sometimes, plans have a tendency to be changed due to some circumstances.
I made some plans regarding the digital changemaking training that I am to facilitate. I had initial talks with some people until I focused on one person and it will be with indigenous youth.
The first plan was to do the training during the youth’s retreat during the Songkran festival here in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Songkran is Thai’s new year festival celebrated from April 13-15, 2017.
I went over the training tool kit and identified which ones to do. I decided to do a three hours training. I worked on the agenda, prepared some of the materials that I will need like the “leaf” shaped metacards, then I drew a tree at the board and printed the attendance sheet and the feedback form among others. I also bought snacks.
We had to change the schedule though because the retreat did not push through. So the next schedule was to do it on Sunday, April 16, in the afternoon. However, only a few youth were there because most have gone home to their villages due to the festival. The training was cancelled.
Because of that, I called on some people on the same day to arrange another schedule and invite some participants from indigenous women’s network among others. They have confirmed to come even if it was a holiday.
So we set training schedule for the third time which is April 17, 2 in the afternoon.
When the day arrived, I set up the projector, ensured the video was ready as well as the notebooks and other materials. As I was waiting, the rain poured down heavily at about one o’clock in the afternoon.
The participants called me to say that they are about to come but have to wait for the rain to stop because they are using motorbikes and one is using a bicycle. Finally, the rains stop nearly 2:30 in the afternoon.
So the five participants were complete at 2:30 pm and that’s the time we started the training instead of the initial plan, which is supposed to be at two.
Because I said that we would finish at 5 pm, so I had to do the wrap up at the set time. And we were able to finish on time.
I was grateful for the experience, facilitating the digital changemaking training and having participants from three different countries – Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand – and me as the facilitator who came from the Philippines.
Listening to the stories of the women from different countries in Asia gave me a deeper insight to what each one is experiencing since we have a mix of participants - some are single, a young adult, a mother, a wife and one who is getting married.
I am amazed to listen to the rich stories of the women and I am happy to have shared this activity with them as they were inspired learning about digital empowerment and also by the stories of the other women in the training. Though we came from different countries, we did not feel any differences as we bonded together.
What worked well was having a tool kit ready for use and adjusting it depending on the context. Instead of using a branch as suggested in the kit for the “Intention Tree” activity, I draw a tree instead.
When I had to finish the training within two and a half hours instead of three hours, I asked the participants what activity they want to do. I was able to do this because I have the three possible activities ready together with the materials.
Another thing that worked well is having the network in place. I was able to adapt to changes with regards the schedule and the participants because I know some people who know some indigenous women whom I contacted so that I can have the minimum number of participants.
What was challenging was the weather and venue, as I did not book it early since it was a last minute decision to hold it at the office because it did not push through the day before.
To address these difficulties next time, it would be good to check the weather condition ahead of time so you could advise participants to come early before the rain comes and to immediately ensure that the venue is available.
In my previous experience facilitating training, I experienced having to cancel one because it rained so hard on the day itself of the training.
All in all, being prepared and having some options ready is important when facilitating training. Another thing is, it pays to let the participants speak as they have a lot of experiences to share whether they are a mother and stay at home wife, a young adult, an employee, and an activist among others.
In the end, it was not only the women participants who were inspired but most of all, I was also inspired by their stories – their struggles, their triumphs and their passion in life.
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This poemis an output of the participants
We are women from Asia
We wonder about our rights as women
We hear violence
We see discrimination
We want peace
We are young women, mother, wife
We need love
We worry being hurt
We cry if they dominate us
We are strong
We understand we can change the world
We say encouraging words
We hope true love prevails
We are women, we are not afraid