7-8 PHAST Day 3 or Let’s Stop Eating Poop

I’m trying to be delicate…
Day three is both one of the most interesting and the most difficult day. This is the behavior change day and requires a delicate hand at facilitating. Let’s be honest, I’m not delicate at anything. It requires a lot of work on my part, but when it works it is pretty neat.
The day starts with a sanitation ladder. They don’t really use ladders here and there aren’t any stairs, so translating the concept has been interesting. I am using the metaphor of a hill, which people here definitely get. We have a lot of hills.
The activity itself takes a handful of pictures of different toilets, water and animal control options and asks the groups to put them in order from best to worst. When they have the order, they are asked to choose where they are now and where they would like to be in one year. The idea is that by laying out the ladder, they can see that there are small steps to take to reach a goal and that they don’t have to jump from the bottom to the top in one go. I think it kind of works, but due to outside influences here, they sometimes miss the point. Part of this activity is to try to get a debate started about what the best possible option for this community is. The “where we want to be” picture is what we set as the goal for the rest of the workshop. In some places, they’ve reached agreement easily at this stage and had an argument later and in other places they’ve started the argument right then. I’m happy with either option.
I’m sure he had some insightful questions to write.
Once we have a goal for facility changes, we start on activity two which talks about behavior changes. The small groups look through various behavior pictures that they have already deemed good or bad and find two pictures. One is a picture of a bad behavior that is happening in this community and they want to stop. The second is a picture of a good behavior that is happening a little bit but they want to encourage to happen more. This is where the delicate hand of facilitation comes in. It is my job to help them find ways to encourage or discourage the behaviors, without actually telling them what to do. In some communities, this works great. They want to talk about these problems and everyone has an opinion. In some communities, they want me to tell them what to build and it doesn’t work great. Every workshop is a new experience.
The last activity for day three is one of my favorites. Everyone gets a slip of paper that they write a question on. Any question about the workshop so far is a valid question. Every paper goes into a basket so it is completely anonymous. They all think I’m going to answer the questions up until the point I start handing the slips of paper back out and asking them for answers to the questions. It can be a really empowering activity, if it goes well. The community can see that all of the information it needs to accomplish these goals already exists within the community, which is both empowering and scary. It means they are running out of excuses to not do things.
In my village, this activity went really well, in a backwards kind of way. My co-facilitator at the time pulled the question, “There aren’t very many people at your workshop. How do you feel about that?” Clearly, that was addressed to me, but because it was my co-facilitator who pulled it, I got to turn it around on him. He had to answer the question, as a leader.
Pulling the questions out of the basket
I did answer it after but my answer still turned it back around onto the community. In my mind, I am running these workshops because people have asked for help with toilets. I am not running these workshops because I have a long-term interest in living in this community, so the people who will be living here should take responsibility for using the resources available to them to improve their own lives. That is a little harsh, I know. On the other hand, I’m on a contract which, when it is finished, means I will go back to the US and have running water and indoor plumbing. This is their life. I don’t want to waste my own time or their resources by being here and I am a goal oriented person. I like results. But in the end, it is their lives that will be impacted by having toilets and they need to take responsibility for that.
There have been a lot of questions about things like funding (grant vs fundraiser), who will do the work (the community), and what happens if they don’t do the work (nothing, or loss of grant money, depending).
The goal of day three is that at the end, people are thinking about changing certain behaviors and thinking of ways to improve their own behavior to avoid eating poop.

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