From 28 Sep - 1 Oct 2020, we held our first ever online forum. There were eight sessions over four days, bringing together members from across our network to connect and learn from each other. We've now published a full report, which you can read here, and you can also enjoy a personal reflection from our Network Co-ordinator RIVKA SHAW below.
For me, it was an exciting chance to meet members who I had only communicated with over the phone or message. Sushma from Uttarakhand Cluster, Dennyson from Bihar Cluster, Nasilele from Monze Cluster and Patricia from Kericho Cluster are just some of those people. I also learned a lot from the sessions. The 'Listening Skills Workshop' was full of useful tips on listening well even in situations of disagreement, and left me with lots of ideas on how to use those skills in personal as well as professional relationships. In the 'Empowering Women Through Enterprise' session, I felt inspired by the struggle for gender equality that goes on, with courage and quiet determination, across our network and the world.
A memorable moment is a story we heard from Uttarakhand Cluster’s Jubin in the 'Learning From Failure' session. She told us about a sports event held for children with disabilities in Dehradun. The children had been training for the relay race. When it started, the first runner from one school started running the race in the opposite direction. No one stopped him, and instead when his team won the race – in the “wrong” direction – everyone celebrated. Jubin said: “to me, that is success: the joy of having done something together; the joy of having taken the risk to be part of something. And it didn’t matter whether you came first or last, but just the joy of having done it.”
That’s what I learned personally; but we also learned some things that will add value to Arukah as a network as well. The 'Learning From Failure' session reminded us that it’s not enough to be open about failure in theory – we need to make more effort to embed it in how we communicate, so that Cluster members never feel they can share only good news with the wider network. Our latest podcast also helped me to think further about this.
In the 'Understanding Mental Health' session, I found it useful to learn about how Arukah’s Cluster model affects the relationship between mental health and livelihood. Often mental health programmes struggle to address the root causes of mental health problems, which often lie in poverty. But if these programmes can collaborate with enterprise and livelihood projects – as they do in Clusters – the problems can be addressed at the core and we can have more impact.
This forum was planned out of circumstance – we were unable to meet in person as planned – but it had unexpected benefits. It meant that more people were able to join than could in person, making it more accessible. But we should remember that it felt more accessible to some members than others, because we were reliant on internet connection. I’d love to think more about how greater technological support could be organised for members in future Forums.
Read the full report here: bit.ly/2HHzivM