In early May, staff of the Child Rescue Centre and Mercy Hospital participated in a training held by OneVillage Partners to learn community mapping and other concepts for effective community development. The skills learned in the training will help the CRC and Mercy to connect with the community, religious, and government leaders, as well as members of the community to make it easier to identify and support the most vulnerable members of the community.
OVP is a Sierra Leone-based organization that helps rural communities train, empower, and mobilize leaders, so that they can address their community’s most pressing, self-identified problems. By including the community in the process of identifying problems and developing solutions, OVP empowers people to solve their own problems and strengthens community investment in solutions.
OVP trainers Musa Gangha and Muje Josephine Lansana taught the CRC staff critical communication skills including focus group facilitation, appreciative inquiry (how to interview without leading the subject), and the Mercy Staff power-wise ranking (how villages can vote for their own priorities), and social and resource mapping. OVP trainers also coached both staff in identifying stakeholders, to ensure good representation in data collection.
The staff learned skills specific to developing and including voices which are often more difficult to hear, especially those of women and children.
“We found the OVP training very important as it directly relates to our present job,” observed Child Support Program assistant coordinator Victor Kanu. “The training has changed my perception about community development. In any community work I am doing, I will involve community people for better participation.
Ismael Vandi, Mercy Hospital statistician, found the training very worthwhile. "I really learned so many things I did not know before. The mapping for example, I never knew there were so many types of mapping. It was really interesting to learn about the power wise ranking method. It really helps make the decision making process easier and clear. Bringing the community people on board and making them really involved means that it will be easier to understand the community. Participation by community members is key. They know best what they want and need in their community. We need to ask them and involve them in any development project so they benefit and understand it."
OVP’s central concept is the “sharpening stone” (see video below). When a person tries to farm with a dull machete, he cannot do the work well, he needs a sharpening stone to make the machete effective. The “sharpening stone” of community empowerment is the teamwork involved in community mapping.
Scenes from Mercy Hospital's training session with OneVillage Partners.
Below, the Child Rescue Centre training.