January 2007

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New leadership

The Story of ICA Bangladesh

NGOs Campaign against HIV/AIDS in Benin

Allanblackia: Setting Conservation Standards and Sustainable Suppy Chain Management

ICA Sub-Continental meeting at theEnvironmental Education Centre in  Talegaon, Pune

There is no ICA Mexico?

The ICA-Mena Story

Recent Activities of ICA Nepal


Update from ICA Netherlands


Women professionaly trained to weave for
income generation in Egypt


Around The Big Table in Lima

South Africa:
The Journey of "Youth as Facilitive Leaders"

An Independent Victory

Success Stories from ICA Work in Mto Mbu

United Kingdom:
Training Young People in Europe on Facilitation

ICA International

New Leadership for the 21st Century
F. Nelson Stover, President of ICA International

  Sarah Miller and Lambert Okrah outside    the United Nations headquarters

The Institute of Cultural Affairs International took a big step forward on 1 December 2006 when it hired Sarah Miller to join Lambert Okrah on the ICAI staff in Montreal.  Lambert and Sarah provide the breadth of experience, the depth of commitment, and the variety of skills needed to ensure the successful implementation of the business plan adopted at the recent General Assembly. 

Lambert Okrah, Secretary General, founded ICA Ghana in 1997 and served as its Executive Director for seven years, growing the organisation to a staff of twenty-eight operating from four field offices. Lambert previously worked as the Director of Programmes for the Green Earth Organisation and Development Officer for Friends of the Earth Ghana. His first contact with the ICA network was as a participant in ICAI’s International Training Programme for Development Practitioners in Brussels. Lambert has organized, participated in, and often served as spokesperson for many international workshops and conferences. He is the author of multiple articles and policy analyses examining the relationship between human development and environmental conservation. He holds a Bachelor’s degree and has undertaken graduate work in African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon.

Sarah Miller, Director of Development and Communications, first served the ICA network as an intern with ICA USA, where she worked on community development initiatives in Phoenix, Arizona, and later joined the ICA USA Board of Directors. Prior to joining the ICAI staff, Sarah was an editor at Yale University Press in New Haven, Connecticut. She has also served as communications and strategy consultant for the Abraham Fund Initiatives in Jerusalem; Fellow in the Belfer Center for American Pluralism at the American Jewish Committee in New York; and a freelance writer, editor, and communications consultant for a variety of for-profit and non-profit organizations. She has participated in The Institute for International Mediation and Conflict Resolution’s International Symposium in The Hague, Netherlands and studied Hebrew at Haifa University in Israel. Sarah holds a Bachelor’s in Literature from Yale University.

Lambert and Sarah will serve as the nucleus of the 5-person ICAI staff team that is being assembled in Montreal to continue the growth of the work of ICAI and member ICAs around the globe.


The Story of ICA Bangladesh
Staff of ICA Bangladesh

This is the story of ICA Bangladesh and the journey made by its Founder and Executive Director, Mohamamd Azizur Rahman. Aziz was born in 1976 in Chandpur, Bangladesh. Aziz’s motivation for development work led him to participate in voluntary work throughout his youth, initially with a disability NGO in the town of Sylhet and two local NGOs in Chandpur. Following his Bachelors and Masters in Sociology, he joined university teaching. In between, he undertook an international master’s degree in Regional Development Planning and Management in Germany. During his study in Germany, Aziz came to know about ICA from Tatwa P. Timsina of ICA Nepal.

 Meeting of leaders in the Chandpur District community
 empowerment project

In 2002, Aziz started to think about establishing ICA in Bangladesh. During his vacation, he invited Tatwa Timsina to facilitate a Group Facilitation Skills Training and meet with a team of young people from Bangladesh in October 2002. Under the mentorship of Tatwa Timsina, as well as John and Robyn Hutchinson from ICA Australia, Shankar Jadhav from ICA India, and other colleagues, Aziz initiated an all-out effort to develop a model development organization in Bangladesh, in order to serve the poor and contribute to the development of his country.

         Azizur Rahman
         at the 2006 ICAI General Assembly

Since then, Aziz has attended various national, regional, and international conferences, workshops, and seminars focusing development issues in order to enrich his knowledge, skills, and abilities. ICA Bangladesh has also undertaken the following activities:

* Initiated an integrated community development project focused on addressing the problems of landless families sheltered in the Ghoramara Asrayan Prokalpa Area, Chandpur. Project components have included: 1) a workshop on community needs and priorities; 2) an awareness-raising campaign about health, education, water and sanitation,  environment, disability, and human rights; and 3) facilitating education for underprivileged children, in cooperation with the Integrated Human Development Organization Bangladesh and Universal Social Welfare Organization.

* Conducted research on HIV/AIDS consciousness, with two more research proposals in the works on disability and child labor. ICA Bangladesh members are actively working with highly-regarded Bangladeshi research organizations,  specifically PIACT Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Institute of Social Research.

* Community empowerment advocacy services, including research design and data analysis, provided to four partner NGOs: the Green Disabled Foundation in Sylhet; the Integrated Human Development Organization Bangladesh in Chandpur; the Universal Social Welfare Organization in Chandpur; and Basati Unnoyan Sangstha in Matlab.

* Training in group facilitation skills conducted at Chandpur Law College with twenty local NGO executives participating. An International Technology of Participation training program was also organized at the National Institute of Local Government in Dhaka, with thirty participants from MRA India, ICA Nepal, Action Aid Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, ICA Bangladesh, and Confidential Approach to Aids Prevention.

* Biannual newsletter Bay Waves provides information on training programs, development projects, and the importance of participatory methods in development. Click here to read the May 2006 edition.

   ToP Training in Dhaka

* Upcoming programs and activities include: 1) a one-day advocacy meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, involving more than 100 youth journalists and reporters; 2) introduction of a water and sanitation component to the ongoing Integrated Community Development Project in Ghoramara Asrayan Prokalpa Area, Chandpur; and 3) new courses in facilitation skills, community development methods, strategic planning, and capacity building.


NGOs campaign against HIV/AIDS in Benin
Kassimou Issotina

Since October 2006, Benin’s national coalition against HIV/AIDS has undertaken a vigorous programme designed to curtail the spread of HIV/AIDS in Benin and participate in global actions against HIV/AIDS. Activities of the coalition include: capacity building training in schools with teachers and pupils, focused on how to fight HIV/AIDS; preparation for Global HIV/AIDS Day; and working with national and local decision-makers to develop a cooperative strategy for fighting HIV/AIDS. Funders of the project are: Mouvement Mondial en Faveur de l’Enfant in Canada, Oxfam, Unicef, Aide et Action, Care International, and Plan Benin. Lambassa ICA Benin has been very pleased to be involved in the coalition’s activities.

Youth participants in Benin’s Global AIDS Day activities
assemble in the shape of the AIDS awareness symbol

Projects implemented by ICA Benin have focused on three districts: Djougou, Ouaké, and Bassila. We have implemented teacher training programs, worked with school pupils, developed relationships with local leaders, held public meetings in the towns of Djougou and Bassila, conducted interviews with journalists, and participated in the big activities held for children on 7 December. While the official World AIDS Day is 1 December, this event was designed especially for children and held separately. Activities took place throughout the country and every school was encouraged to initiate a project for this event. ICA Benin sent representatives into these schools to help them design their own programs.

   More than 600 youth walk against HIV/AIDS
   down the main road in Djougou, Benin

On the morning of 7 December, ICA Benin invited all schools involved in the project to participate in a public march against HIV/AIDS in the Donga region, one of the twelve regions of Benin. Schools gathered their pupils some distance from the main event and initiated a group walk of at least 600 pupils down the main road of Djougou. As they arrived at the main event, pupils played with folk groups and read advocacy messages against HIV/AIDS. Municipal leaders, schools headmasters, and traditional leaders attended the event. Pupils later worked with ICA Benin to formally transmit their messages to decision-makers.


Allanblackia: Setting Conservation Standards and
Sustainable Supply Chain Management

Joseph Kekesi

ICA Ghana is preparing to mark its tenth birthday in 2007. Time flies indeed. It seems like only yesterday that we would say, “we are only a young organization with no track record.” But today we can assure you that we can truly deliver!

  ICA Ghana's Director of Programs Peter   Marr leads a community workshop

When ICA Ghana emerged on the NGO landscape in Ghana in August 1997, we started operations from our headquarters in Accra, even though our programme activities were all based in the rural areas outside Accra, in line with our mission to help the poorest of the poor. We now have project offices spread throughout the country, including Kpando and Hohoe in the Volta Region, Zabzugu and Damongo in the Northern Region, and Preasta and Sefwi Wiawso in the Western Region.

ICA Ghana works with communities and groups at the grassroots level. Since most of the people we work with are engaged in subsistence farming, issues pertaining to the sustainable use of natural resources, alternative sources of livelihood, improved farming methods, education, and health form the core of our organization’s work.

We would like to share our experiences with one of these initiatives in the Western Region, the Allanblackia project.

The Allanblackia tree grows in the wild in some of the world’s tropical rain forests, including those in Ghana’s Western Region. Oil extracted from the Allanblackia seeds is a new commodity, which can be used in place of palm oil in the preparation of margarine and other products, since it solidifies at room temperature. The initiative to establish a sustainable supply chain for Allanblackia seeds, as well as harvest the wild seeds in a sustainable way, represents a glowing example of effective partnership between government, industry, and civil society. Our project partners include The World Conservation Union (IUCN), Unilever, Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Technoserve, and the Forest Research Institute of Ghana.

Instructions for preparing Allanblackia seeds for market, prepared by ICA Ghana

The Allanblackia project has the potential to diversify income sources and improve the livelihoods of poor rural communities. ICA Ghana’s role is to engage and educate the local community about the project; conduct baseline surveys, radio campaigns, and school campaigns; and teach children and community members about biodiversity conservation. In our educational campaigns, the emphasis is always on the provision of “salt-money,” by which we mean the provision of additional income to meet petty household needs such as salt. At present, the price that seed collectors receive is modest, but is gradually increasing over time.

ICA Ghana is working hard to both educate community members about the long-term potential of Allanblackia harvesting, and to advocate for continued increase of the price paid for the raw product.  While many challenges lay ahead, we remain optimistic and buoyed by the small successes we see each day.


ICA Sub-Continental meeting at the
Environmental Education Centre in Talegaon, Pune

John Hutchinson

The third annual ICA sub-continental planning gathering was held in Talegaon, the Environmental Training Centre of ICA India on 7 October 2006. A group of twelve representatives gathered from Australia, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. It was great to also have Lambert Okrah, Secretary General of ICAI, in attendance. The meeting reinforced the desire and practical steps for the 3 ICAs of the sub continent to continue to work more closely together and with partner organizations. The key programmatic focus areas are: 

  • Community development;
  • Developing strategies to reach youth, as part of the YFL initiative; and
  • ToP methods training programs.

There are also plans underway for several individuals from other ICAs to support the sub-continent’s newest ICA, ICA Bangladesh, during 2007, as collaborative mentors, trainers, and facilitators. The next sub-continental gathering will be held during the last week in November 2007 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


There is no ICA Mexico?
Wayne Ellsworth

There is no ICA Mexico? Hum . . . This morning I walked into the community center at Albarrado, and the secretary was typing a chart with “Objective Reflective Interpretive Decisional” . . . for their everyday work.  Yesterday I was in a remote village (they don’t even know Spanish) and the team was using an artform conversation in order to introduce natural health care, medicinal plants, preparation of remedies, and proper usage. And in the Chiapas State International Relations office, they are seeking our training.  Furthermore, in the state governor’s staff, there will soon be several people trained and using ToP methods! Now I am on the way to Tuxtra Gutierrez, to advise the project team on their use of Participatory Strategic Planning (PSP) in order to plan what follow-through activities will come after ICA Japan and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) wrap-up our three-year project here in 2008.  Also on the agenda is to assist the team in leading six community forums.  They have trained 30 promoters, who will eventually lead 30 or more communities out of poverty, away from low self esteem, and into self responsibility, as well as to care for forming a new world.

This is all a part of our joint project of human development training, as well as vocational training such as computer instruction, community finance, and medicinal herb promotion.  ICA USA provides ToP training, the Chiapas state and city governments provide multiple training centers to support and promote training, ICA Japan and colleagues in Mexico provide leadership training, overall planning and monitoring, and documentation, and JICA provides guidance and financial resources monitoring.

The “non-ICA Mexico staff” have planned to launch a task force to carry out 2007 preparation studies and symposiums, and to select a team to bring their insights to the 7th Global Conference on Human Development: Unlocking the Potential to Create a New World, Together.  I can’t wait to learn more from this fantastic team!

This is a joint project of ICA Japan, under the direction of Shizuyo Sato, and Paulo Ito, the project leader of the non-ICA Mexico!

Middle East and North Africa

The ICA-MENA Story
Dina El Wakil

The Institute of Cultural Affairs Middle East and North Africa (ICA MENA), headquartered in Cairo, focuses on participatory community development and capacity building of community groups, civil society organizations, government organizations, and even the private sector.

  Chidren participating in a health awareness program

ICA MENA conducts participatory development in various fields, including formal and informal education, job creation, health awareness, environmental sustainability, voluntary action, gender equity, micro-credit, and youth leadership.

During 2006, ICA-MENA was engaged in more than 18 projects with a variety of goals.

The projects included:

*Assisting children at risk in Cairo's largest urban slum, with special emphasis on the visually impaired;

*Development in an urban slum through institutional strengthening of community development associations in Fayoum and Aswan, with the support of the European Union and Misereor;

*Training workshops in “Information Communication Techonlogy for Development” (ICT4D), in partnership with Microsoft;

  Using natural resouces for handicrafts that generate
  income for underprivileged women

*Utilization of natural resources to create profitable handicrafts that generate income for underprivileged women, with the support of the World Bank;

*Art for children's development ;

*ToP™ training and capacity building workshops for government organizations and officials in collaboration with UNICEF… and much more!

Since “Youth Evolution” is among the main thrust of our current and future programming, we would like to share two particular projects that have been implemented in this area.

The first project is our Youth Leadership Program, which offers new college graduates, both male and female, an internship opportunity at ICA MENA. The youth rotate within ICA MENA's various departments for 16 months and, at the end of their internship, are required to present the graduation committee, composed of ICA staff, with a development project that they have designed, using the knowledge learned during the internship. In October 2006, thirteen development practitioners successfully graduated and have all secured employment in development organizations. ICA MENA now hopes to expand this project with a 3rd phase, to present greater numbers of youth with job opportunities in the development field and therefore successfully address both Egypt's rising unemployment rate and the need for innovative development approaches.

The second project began as a small pilot and is now on its way toward expansion.

   Egyptian and Sudanese youth

Recently, with mass Sudanese immigration to Cairo, tensions between the local and immigrant populations have grown, often leading to violence, particularly among youth. ICA  MENA's intervention brought together a group of local Egyptian youth and a group of immigrant Sudanese youth in a workshop aimed at fostering increased cultural understanding and dialogue. The workshop utilized ICA’s participatory methodology to facilitate both groups in creating shared dreams, realizing their common challenges, and appreciating their potential and available resources. Upon completion of the workshop, the youth groups concluded that they all hold the shared goal of combating discrimination. The second phase of the project is currently underway, and will use a youth cultural center to bring together large numbers of Egyptian and Sudanese youth to take part in theatre, musicals/choirs, and sports activities as a first step towards increased integration, harmony, collaboration, and non-discrimination among immigrant and local youth groups. UNHCR has been supporting our efforts.

ICA MENA dreams of a developed and strengthened Middle East that is built on values of participation, cooperation, unity, and equality of all regardless of race, gender, income levels, or nationality. The ICA MENA family hopes that 2007 can show further development endeavors of the sort and we look forward to sharing more stories with the extended ICAI family in the following edition of the Network Exchange.


Recent Activities of ICA Nepal
Hemant Pokhrel

Because of the war that has been ongoing in Nepal for the past eleven years, much of the country’s development work has been halted, especially in rural areas. During the war, the presence of government was not observed in villages. A small number of NGOs adapted their strategies to the situation, and ICA Nepal was among them. Despite the risks, we could not stay away from the community when people needed help the most.      

ICA Nepal has been carrying out human development activities, training, facilitation, and research since its foundation in 1998.

ToP training session in Nepal

Community development activities are launched with the financial support of donors, and are focused largely on the rural areas where there is widespread illiteracy, gender/caste discrimination, poverty, and inadequate knowledge about the environment, health, and sanitation. Major programmes are thus focused on participatory strategic planning, non-formal education, sustainable agriculture, savings and credit, construction of low cost toilets, improved cooking stoves and waste water management, and environmental awareness. In addition, training and facilitation programmes include training of trainers, proposal writing and fundraising, participatory rural appraisal, and participatory planning, monitoring, and evaluation.

Here are some of the voices of participants in a three year project implemented in the Doti and Dadeldhura district of the Far Western Region of Nepal, with the financial support of Katholische Zentralstelle fur Entwicklungshilfee.V. / MISEREOR, Germany.

Ishwori Raj Ojha, a 35 years old school teacher, tells us that he is now convinced that the development of the region must begin at the local level: "I learned planning processes, tools for finding solutions to problems, methods for analyzing situations, discussion methods, and peace-keeping processes from the training course. Since then, I have applied what I learned with a small group in my hamlet. Although it was the first experience in my life to initiate this kind of work, I am encouraged with the preliminary result. The training conferred upon me the self-confidence to initiate and carry out development work."

Dandi Ram Kami, a 28 years old artisan who is also a so-called lower caste person, said that he attended two training programs conducted by other social organizations, but the training conducted by ICA Nepal was different because it taught him “structural methods that can be replicated easily to other places.”

Mina Malla, a 25 year old literacy facilitator, shared her experience of speaking with rebels who wanted her to join their group. The rebels saw that she had the facilitation skills to convince people to attend her literacy class, and they wanted her to use her skills attract more people in favour of their party. She refused to join the warring groups, telling them instead that they should first abandon the path of violence.

These are just a few of the stories of rural Nepalese who have emerged from the programs of ICA Nepal with valuable new abilities and hope for the future.


Update from ICA Netherlands
Rombout den Ouden

Member ICAs around the world train people to take the role of facilitator and build consensus-based plans. But at ICA Netherlands we do something that differs from most other ICA offices. Since 1989, we have only trained people who are interested in volunteering in developing countries. To everyone over the age of 21 and looking to work as a volunteer for at least half a year, we offer our 9-day course. Upon completion of the course, we arrange a volunteer placement for each participant, working in an interesting new location. All of this is carried out by a 100% voluntary staff and board.

Starting in 2006, we increased our staff from six to eleven people. In addition, we have sharpened our mission to focus not only on training, but also on maximizing the social impact of our trainees around the world. This staff expansion, together with increased focus on social responsibility, have given us the spark to launch our internal  growth process. Our operational plan for 2007 calls for providing sufficient income for at least one paid employee. This looks very promising, and will keep us busy for the coming year.

So perhaps you have not heard from us in the past, but you will certainly hear from us in the near future, and we will welcome your support.

One of our course participants in action
The participants and staff of the 2006 course


Around The Big Table in Lima
The ICA Peru Team

It is difficult to find words to tell you what it has been like to be sitting around the big table in the ICA Peru offices these days.  The team is back together again – what a wonderful feeling!  After almost 15 years of individual efforts to survive while keeping the ICA institution alive, everything feels fresh and new as we begin to trust again that the team will always win if we stick together and build our new reality, working by consensus day by day. 

Of course we still have a bunch of challenges to deal with. Last year there were members of our Board of Directors who told us that consensus was an outmoded concept, a good idea that never really worked.  They told us it was time to update our methods and become “professional,” emphasizing words like “efficiency.” It sounded interesting, but we noticed that it led us to be consumed with a heavy focus on administration. What we all really wanted was something to make our hearts soar again! All of this is now coming into perspective as we discover once again the joy, laughter, and profundity of working together in consensus around one table.

      Community demonstration project, Azpitia

We found our new unity in the vision for a long-term national project, one that demands so much of us and means so much to us that there is no room for doubts or disputes.  We have the challenge of the “100 Valleys” project on our hands, and everyone we share it with catches our excitement.  The project has the audacious 10-year objective of using participatory methods to restore the vitality and productivity of the Incan era to the thousand or more villages that line the valleys of the High Sierra.  With this vision, we now know that we can make a real lasting difference with our work together, so once again there is joy and laughter around the big ICA table in Lima.

South Africa

The Journey of “Youth as Facilitative Leaders”
Thembi Maxamba

Itereleng: The Institute of Cultural Affairs South Africa was formed in 2001, with the aim of building capacity amongst individuals and communities through the use of unique participatory methods known as Technologies of Participation (ToP). The organization believes that only through genuine participation can communities truly take ownership and control of their development.

Youth as Facilitators Leaders (YFL) is the organization’s major programme, and has been working with young people from different areas of Johannesburg since 2002. The overall aim of the programme is to develop young people as facilitative leaders, in order to mobilize and influence social change in their schools and communities. The programme helps youth identify the major issues facing them in today’s society and initiate projects that will allow them share their learning and unleash their potential to advance development in their communities.

Since YFL’s inception, it has been an exciting journey. When the programme was initiated, its focus was on helping young people communicate and become more self aware, in order for them to be assertive individuals, capable of making informed decisions and serving as positive role models to their peers. These objectives were realized through training programs in communication, facilitation, and awareness of issues such as HIV/AIDS and gender relations.

Based on the success of this initial phase, over 1,500 young people have now been trained through the YFL program. Participants of the program were given the opportunity to train others, who in turn joined the growing YFL network. Members of this YFL network have proven themselves over time, with Itereleng: ICA appointing a young person to coordinate the programme in 2004.

The programme has also enjoyed growing respect and exposure from other organizations, peers, individuals, and funders. In 2005, the YFL coordinator was invited to the Africa Unite Youth conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia organized by UNICEF. Various collaborations with UNICEF on youth-related events have also taken place over the past 2 years.

During 2006, YFL has continued to grow and trained 8 new groups from the same schools and groups in 4 different areas.  A total of 145 young people were taken through a four-day training process, covering facilitation, assertive communication, gender, HIV/AIDS, and African leadership.  The training was handled exclusively by a team of four youth facilitators, ages 18 and 19, who are graduates of the YFL programme. Currently, campaign activities under the banner of “16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children” are taking place in the same four areas, focused on tackling the scourge of gender-based violence.  These activities are once again being run by young people, with the support of Itereleng:ICA.

YFL is a very unique programme and, given continued support, will enable the youth of Johannesburg to achieve dramatic new heights in themselves and their communities. 


An Independent Victory
Marina Safarova

We would like to tell you the story of ICA: EHIO’s first independent grant in the fall of 2004, an experience that has left its trace on our souls. Up until this time, we implemented projects only in partnership with Mercy Corps. But we wanted to design a project of our own and implement it independently. In the autumn of 2004, IREX/USAID announced a competition for local NGOs to implement projects in their Election/Advocacy Program. In early 2005, Tajikistan was planning to hold Parliamentary elections. ICA: EHIO proposed an education program, conducting training programs on election law so that every person aged 18 and older knows his/her rights and responsibilities regarding the elections. As this was our first independently developed project, you can imagine our excitement when we learned that, from almost 100 proposals from all over Tajikistan, we won! We were told that our project was very interesting and strong, with a unique approach. Although it was only a three-month project, it was our first independent victory and our staff was very proud. In that moment, we could not have suspected what lay ahead…

As the project was focused on educating university students, naturally our first step was to notify university management. As we walked from one university administration office to another, from rector to assistant rector, and from official to official, each person sent us to someone else. A month passed, and still nobody would permit anything and no one would help. At last we were told that our project was political (!?!?) and we must obtain permission from the City Mayor. The Mayor granted permission, but noted that we still could not implement anything until the regional government (Hukumat of Oblast) supplied its own permission. Hukumat of Oblast promised to give us a letter of support, but another month passed and nothing came. During all of this time, our staff worked to develop and promote the project, and thought hard about how to change our frustrating situation. Yet every day we faced a stone wall and heard “tomorrow, tomorrow…”

Finally Hukumat of Oblast informed us that we would need permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs! With the support of USAID/IREX, we obtained this permission fairly quickly. When we brought this letter of support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Chief of the Department on work with students of Hukumat of Oblast, his eyes opened wide with surprise. He told us that everything now looked very good, but we must also obtain a letter of permission for project implementation from our President! This process was now beyond absurd. And the official project realization deadline was only one week away. Now there was no doubt that it would be impossible for us to implement the project. At the time, it felt like a deep failure and affected all of our staff members greatly.

Yet IREX then gave us the opportunity to implement another project in the framework of their Advocacy Program, and thereafter we developed excellent relations with IREX. Yet our story is not about the partnership forged between ICA: EHIO and IREX. This first unsuccessful experience taught us a great deal and we have learned to avoid “political” projects that put us in the position of seeking permission from government authorities. Of course we collaborate with them whenever possible, as it is not possible to work effectively otherwise. Yet we understand for ourselves that, at the present time in our region, there are some directions in which social organizations are not allowed to penetrate. And this knowledge has helped us develop new strategies for how we can be effective in achieving our goals.


Success stories from ICA work in Mto wa Mbu
The second of three stories serialized in Network Exchange
Alanna Mitchell

Cecilia Arpakwa used to be afraid to talk. And for good reason. In her Maasai culture, women are not allowed to speak in front of men. In a similar way, they are not allowed to watch men eat, on pain of being beaten.
But in 2003, Arpakwa was chosen by her community to take part in an ICA legal training program. This involved teaching some Maasai men and women about land laws, marriage rights and general legal ground rules in Tanzania.
Arpakwa, a woman with bright eyes and a huge smile, realized that she had the right to speak up. It galvanized her.
She went home to her husband (she is one of six of his wives, and is a favourite) and explained that she wanted to speak at an upcoming public meeting, now that she knew the laws of the land permitted it.

A factor in her decision was that the meeting was to take place in the Roman Catholic church in the midst of the sprawling community. She considered it a safe place because women were allowed to go there already and that meant speaking there would be less risky.

But if she spoke, she would be the first woman in the entire community, and it would represent an enormous shift.
She persuaded her husband that she should take the step. He agreed to support her by going with her to the meeting. They prepared the other villagers by telling them three days before the meeting that she was going to make an announcement.
She did. It was a simple announcement. But it’s a moment she still relishes.
Now, she says, women are able to talk about real issues out loud. For example, the drought of East Africa is having a severe effect on her village. Cattle are getting sick and are dying. Nobody has enough to eat. Water is scarce.
But now that women are no longer afraid to talk, they discuss these issues. They are all poor, says Arpakwa, but because they can talk, they have decided to share what food they have until this terrible dry season ends.

United Kingdom

Training Young People in Europe on Facilitation
Jonathan Dudding

In July 2006, ICA:UK was asked to deliver four days of training to an international group of young people, all associated with the International Congress for Youth Exchange. The 13 participants, who came from Iceland, Switzerland, Romania, Finland, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany, gathered in the small village of Waldsieversdorf, about 90 minutes east of Berlin, where we all stayed in hostel-type accommodation beside one of the many small lakes in the area.

The training introduced three of the core ToP methods (Focused Conversation, Consensus Workshop, and Action Planning) and gave participants opportunity to practice the methods, and think about how they would apply them in their own situations. Many of them are involved with volunteers and youth camps, and were able to come up with creative ideas as to how the methods would help them.

Evaluations at the end of the course were very positive. “It has been one of the most useful and participative trainings I have attended,” wrote one participant, with others reflecting similar thoughts.

In order to try and understand the longer-term impact of the training, further questionnaires were sent around in October 2006. Responses are still coming in, but those received so far show a variety of experiences and learning, ranging from “I have not had the chance to try the methods out yet” to those with more confidence trying out the methods in a variety of settings. One participant was even inspired to write a poem of her experiences:

Loads of people,
I might lose my voice,
Need to talk to the new people.
Look for strength,
I’ve people to help me.
I have skill, I can do it.
Let’s do it.
And I did it.
It feels good. 

And what happens next? Well, plans are underway for a follow up course focusing on participatory strategic planning, to be held in Iceland in 2007.

Participants in the International Congress for Youth Exchange training.

Designed by Peter Ellins; edited by Sarah Miller.
Published by The Institute of Cultural Affairs International,
401 Richmond Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3A8, Canada.
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