designing the pilots

12Mar12

Although our project can seem very un-structured to those who are used to set syllabus or workshop, there is a lot of structure to what we are doing. But that structure also allows for a lot of fluidity and responsiveness at the same time, where it is needed.

At the pilot, we introduce the concept of the dialogues, where Brinda sets the ground rules:

1.  there will be no passive observers. Everyone must participate and show that they want to be there because they believe the dialogues benefit them, or they feel their experiences and knowledge can be of benefit to others in the group

2.  confidentiality is essential, so what is said in the group should not be revealed to outsiders

These rules are in place to build trust and group cohesiveness. During the pilot, Brinda attempts to asks questions to provoke thought about their own situations, assumptions and challenges they may be struggling with. For example: What are the characteristics of a leader? How do you build courage?

Usually these women come together on larger issues such as laws, policies, microfinance, urban planning, etc., but this project deals with much more personal topics. In many ways, these are almost taboo areas. As one woman said, “I never talk about how I feel when I’m hurt, or what I go through when my family distrusts me.”

So these pilots are the initial stages of addressing situations that matter to these women personally, in their everyday lives, rather than having outsiders tell them the issues they should find important. We ask them, “What problem do you want to tackle? What has been going on in your life that you don’t know how to deal with and that you need help with?”

By giving them a process to address the ‘minor’ or ‘modest’ issues that mean something to them personally, we are hoping these pilots and dialogues will create the confidence and assertiveness in them to tackle the bigger societal challenges in their lives.

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