In the past few months we have been busy building our #Citizens4Change community. Our teams, supported by amazing volunteers, have been going out into communities in Arusha, Tanzania including Daraja Ward, Sombetini and Sinoni to identify possible new protectors to join #Citizens4Change.
What we’ve been doing…
To build our community we have been telling people about #Citizens4Change and helping them to understand the knowledge, resources and support that being part of the community will bring when trying to do the right thing for children and young people. This has included undertaking surveys reaching over 2000 people, to get information about these people onto our systems, but also to better understand the specific problems children face in their communities, and what they feel needs to happen for children to thrive. We have also been keen to uncover the positive protective factors that already exist. Uncovering the positives and ensuring those are shared with the community, so others can adopt similar practices or approaches, is as important as identifying where children need to be protected better.
What we’ve learnt so far…
In conducting this work in the community, it has become apparent that there is resistance from many to acknowledge the ‘problems’ that face children in their communities. Approaching people with a strengths-based position creates more meaningful and illuminating discussion. Asking people to tell us what they do to protect children and young people or to highlight why protecting children will be a positive for their community in the future seems to be the best approach.
It is essential to properly engage members of the community in the #Citizens4Change movement – and not just come in, raise expectations and fail to deliver, as many NGOs do. Our follow up text message/online survey system needs to kick in as quickly as possible after the initial face to face sign up. This will ensure new members feel supported and part of something that takes real action immediately.
The value of -face to face conversations in building human connection and in generating really useful narrative data is undeniable. As such, our thinking around the importance of continued face to face engagement and perhaps a slight move away from the ‘data-centric’ approach we had planned is evolving.
Tech is troublesome. We recognise that technology is a wonderful and vital tool but timeframes for establishing tech are longer than we’d anticipated. With so much energy and enthusiasm for the movement and such great uptake from the people of East Africa, we are making it a priority in the remainder of 2019 to ensure the tech solutions we are promising our community can be delivered.
Finally, and most importantly, we’ve learnt that there is a real appetite for change within communities across East Africa. We’ve learnt that people are already doing things to protect children and young people and those people want others to adopt those behaviours. We’ve learnt that a lack of knowledge, skills, support or even confidence hold people back from doing so at present and we hope that the #Citizens4Change community will be a key driver in ensuring that children and young people across East Africa are safe and thrive.