Over the coming weeks we’ll share some of the key lessons and ideas that came out of our second international forum in the UK. For now, here’s ten highlights from our Communications Co-ordinator JAKE LLOYD. Each Cluster is different. In age, size, strengths and focus. But each shares a belief that their community is full of potential, and that a Cluster can help unlock this potential. This made our International Forum an exciting place to be: different people with different strengths, all giving generously of their time and energy in pursuit of a demanding, common goal. Though there were fewer of us than we hoped (four members sadly did not have visas granted) twelve people from six Clusters joined the UK team and others for a week of connecting, informing and influencing. Here’s ten highlights.
1. Clusters Sharing News Each Cluster led a session discussing their own work. This was a chance for them to receive guidance and support from others, but also to share projects and ideas that others might learn from. For example, Walter (Freetown) and Sedevi (North East) from our newer Clusters received guidance on the attitude and skills required to grow a Cluster in its early days. Meanwhile, Mara Cluster member Ostack shared his expertise on fighting for land rights, which Cluster members from India were especially keen to learn from. 2. Lessons in Leadership We’re all leaders in one way or another, and three members took turns to share wisdom and stories from their own particular context. Palliative care nurse Dorothy (Tanzania) gave a rousing presentation on female leadership. Hospital director Sedevi (India) shared his collection of profound thoughts on how to build and lead a team. And youth leader Dan (Kenya) talked about inspiring and leading young people in a challenging context. Their collected wisdom was great, and I’m pleased to say we’ll make more of it available to you online in the coming weeks. 3. Social Enterprise Linda from Kericho was named Kenya’s “Social Founder of the Year” in 2017, for setting up an organisation to help teenage mothers get back into education. Her fellow Cluster member Robins also makes and sells local crafts. And now – along with our volunteer Michael – they’ll soon trial an Arukah Network online shop, to sell produce made around our network. Profits will go back into each Cluster, to help them fund running costs. Together Linda, Robins and Michael all shared stories, plans and updates on their work. Keep a look out for our online shop – coming soon! 4. Measuring Our Impact Liu Liu is a friend of our network from the Christian charity Tearfund. He’s voluntarily helping us think about how we measure the impact of our work. Under his guidance, we explored how a Cluster “connects, informs and influences” its members and its community, and what our aims of “health, wellbeing and happiness” look like in practice. We then began to think how each Cluster might measure its impact, without taking away from their time serving others. We’ll share more on this soon!
5. The ‘Forest Network’ In recent years, scientists have discovered that a forest is not just a collection of trees, but that each tree is connected via an underground web of fungus. This fungus allows trees to send nutrients and signals to one another, and enable some trees to act as ‘mother trees’ – nurturing and supporting younger trees around them. Co-leader Elizabeth led a session on what our network might learn from this discovery. “This idea is really a revelation for how we can work and grow”, said Vachan from Uttarakhand. We’ll share more on this in the coming months. 6. Storytelling With A Mobile Phone I was lucky to lead a session on how good storytelling can inspire people to do great things. I shared some tools for doing this, and then together we all scripted, photographed and assembled a short video to share the story of our forum, which we then published online – all in the space of an hour and a half! You can watch the film here, and learn more about simple storytelling and mobile phone photography on our free tools page here. 7. Exploring SALT If you’re not yet familiar with “SALT”, we recommend you listen to this podcast interview. SALT is a powerful tool and lifestyle to help build community relationships. One of its pioneers, Ian Campbell, led a SALT session that focused on ways that Clusters might listen to others in their community, and helpfully reflect on what they learn. Some Cluster later made SALT one of their objectives. 8. Setting Goals Gathering together generates energy, and discussing our work together creates focus. We harnessed this energy and focus as Clusters set some future goals. For newer Clusters these goals included creating unity around the Cluster’s values and aims (Freetown) and seeking a co-ordinator (Bihar). For the more established Clusters, they included impacting government policy on education (Uttarakhand) and human rights (Mara). Sign up to our newsletter to keep updated on these goals. 9. Welcoming Visitors We recently began a year-long ‘BeyondMe’ partnership with a team from the UK accountancy firm PwC. Amongst other things, they’ll help us generate more of our own income through our training courses. Three of the PwC team kindly joined us to learn from our Cluster members. We also had visitors from an organisation called PRIME that provides medical training around the world. They forged links with Cluster members from Kenya and Sierra Leone, and we’re hopeful that this might lead to some fruitful partnerships. 10. Fun and Friendship We found time for some relaxation too! In the UK we have a tradition of a ‘pub quiz’, where local people gather for a drink, and in teams answer trivia questions. The purpose is fun and friendship, but there’s often a small prize for the winner. The UK team wanted to give Cluster members an authentic cultural experience of the UK, and so we organised our own pub quiz. It was new to many, but it made for a fun evening!
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