Friday, May 28, 2010

E-Conference!? Technology for the good!

Before the E-Conference I thought that technology was used more for the bad, than for the good. This event learned me that you can use modern technology for the good! I learned a lot about the field experiences from others and how to deal with the different strategies. I learned especially from the cases in Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo and on how to apply International Humanitarian Law. We came to know each other, shared our learning experiences and learned how our colleagues deal with challenges. These were some of the comments from Humanitarian Aid workers of the ACT Alliance network who participated in an E-Conference on Humanitarian Assistance & International Law. See video:

Humanitarian Assistance and International Law
On the 25th May 2010 members from the ACT Alliance had a kick-off with the seminar Humanitarian Assistance & International Law (HAIL). This 2-week seminar will deal about the four principles of HAIL; 1. Humanity, 2. Neutrality, 3. Impartiality and 4. Indepedence. Main purpose of the meeting is to link theoretical principles with the reality of the work in the field. The 24 participants coming from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin-America will share 'best practices,' 'challenging cases' and 'possible scenario's ' on how to apply HAIL during interventions where Humanitarian Aid is needed after natural disasters and armed conflicts. The seminar is an initiative of ICCOenKerkinActie and the ACT Alliance, facilitated by the Hendrik Kraemer Institute.

The E-Conference
As a preperation for this 2-week seminar the Hendrik Kraemer Institute facilitated (led by Aart Verburg and Simon Koolwijk) an E-Conference in February - March, 2010. Main objective was to 1. Identify cases and issues for the seminar, 2. Share experiences about the application of the 4 principles of HAIL in the field and 3. To get acquainted, to build trust and a good atmosphere amongst the participants. The electronic conference lasted 6 weeks. Web 2.0 tools used for the virtual seminar were skype and d-groups. During the first week the participants introduced each other through the d-group (a listserver mail) on their function, favorite literature and expectations for the e-conference. The second week one of the participants from Angola introduced a case. For 2-weeks similar experiences and questions were shared by e-mail discussions, and it was finalized with a skype conference meeting. Since we had to deal with time spans in different parts of the world, three tele-conference meetings of one-and-half hour with 6 participants each were held per day. This phase was followed by a second case coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Again using the same rythm and procedures.

BenefitsParticipants gained the following benefits from the E-Conference
1. Humanitarian Aid workers learned and got to know about each other's practical experiences in the field in applying International Humanitarian Law;
2. It helped to identify burning issues and learning questions for the face-to-face seminar in May-June 2010;
3. It created a group atmosphere amongst the participants and created a feeling of facing similar situations in providing humanitarian assistance in the field. This paved the way to an easy and successfull start of the face-to-face seminar.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Knight of the Order of Orange Nassau - 21st May 2010

"It is a big honor to receive a reward of the community for all the work I have been doing the last 21st years on development".

On the 21st May 2010 Simon Koolwijk received the Knight of the Order of Orange Nassau (Ridder in de Orde van Oranje Nassau) from the Alderman of Hengelo, Janneke Olde-Allink in the library of Hengelo. Simon was proposed by members from Stichting Kapini and Stichting Pearl of Africa. Both foundations support Kawempe Youth Centre in Kampala, Uganda which is a community based project in Kawampe subdivision to build literacy under youth. Simon was the last 10 years board member and chairman / treasurer for 10 years with Stichting Kapini.
Since 1989 Simon was involved in development work where he worked as Board member, organizer, co-ordinator with Stichting Vrijwillige International Actie (service civil international), Institute of Cultural Affairs - Kenya, Institute of Cultural Affairs International, Institute of Cultural Affairs - Netherlands, Genootschap Nedworc, and the E-collaboration network group. Development fostered & directed by local people having participation and involvement of all concerned people, organisations and institutions is one of the key princples in Simon's work. "If local people give direction to their own development, it guarantees durable and sustainable solutions" is one of Simon's motto's. The last 10 years his work with Stichting Kapini was one of his key activities in contributing towards this principle.Simon started his own company in 1997. Since then he did contractual work as trainer/ consultant with participation, facilitation & capacity development as key services for ICCOenKerkinactie, Kontakt der Kontinenten, Hendrik Kramer Institute, MilieuKontakt International, Hogeschool Utrecht, Online faciliteren, Women for Europe and Lef Future Centre.

"This reward is something I would like to dedicate to my parents. They always supported me to do the things I was passionate about. It is a memorisable day moment!"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Digital video as a tool for learning!

From 14 to 23 April 2010 a delegation composed of 20 people from Moldova attended The Netherlands to learn more about community youth development work in the Netherlands. The delegation included youth leaders, representatives of youth centers, NGOs, the Ministry of Youth and Education, Moldova State University and the partner organization Procommunity Centre. The study visit was part of the project "Youth in the Center" (funded by Matra) which aims to strengthen community youth development work in Moldova. The project is a partnership between Kontakt der Kontinenten, Proni Centre for Social Education, Procommunity Centre and the University of Social Work, Hogeschool Windesheim.

During the study tour community youth development projects were visited in Wageningen / Renkum, Friesland, Deventer and Zwolle. To maximize the learning effect and stimulate cooperation amongst the delegation members the group got an assignment to design a newspaper and video. Based on interests, the group was divided into four teams. Each team had a journalist, filmmaker, writer and director and was responsible for a specified field visit day.

The video making had an experimental character. Based on a script / scenario the filmmaker made average half an hour filmshots per day. A simple digital camera (JVC) was used as equipment. At the end of the day the most important scenes were selected. The group selected a combination of substantive and funny elements to tell their story about the week.

At the end of the study week, the team produced a video film of 25 minutes, which was shared on the final evening of the study tour. The film was a reflection of substantive lessons and funny events. "The task forced us to do interviews with youth workers and young people", commented the participants. "In the beginning was our job not clear, but now we did it we appreciate the value." "We had preferred more time to share time on the task, because the program was very full". "Now I have something in my hand which I can share with my colleagues in Moldova." A nice extra was that one of the participants could get along with the video editing program. By applying a user-friendly editing program (Adobe Premiere Elements 8.0) it was easy to put together and produce the video film.

See below a 4 - minute impression of the participatory video.

The video assignment provided us the following learning opportunities:
  • Do not aim during the video making on the highest quality of film production. Learning and the process of producing the video are more important.
  • Not everyone in the group appeared to have a passion for the video. Focus on the people who like the video making, and try to involve others occasionally with a task (such as interviewing) and try to use other methods that promote learning. Designing the newspaper appeared to be an effective method, that went hand in hand with the video making.
  • By applying simple video equipment and a user friendly video editing program (especially young people can already handle it well) makes the film making more easy and it helps to create more ownership amongst the participants. It allows you to be less dependent on film professionals, who might influence the process at a technical level.
  • Build enough time to evaluate each day the video shots and allow time for discussion. This is part of the learning process and it helps to build ownership.
  • A completed movie gives participants a tool with which they can communicate and share their experience with others, who were not involved in the trip.

Thinking through about a capacity development intervention!

"The step-by-step approach helped me to think through how to prepare and be prepared to do my capacity development intervention. The training was logical and personal." This was the comment of one of the capacity development advisors who will be working on communication for a Democratisation and Peace building network in Central America.

The advisor is one of the young professionals from Togetthere and ICCO, who participated in the training capacity development on the 7th May 2010 which was organised by the Hendrik Kreamer Institute in Utrecht. Discussing theoretical principles and how to build up a joint capacity development intervention plan were parts of the course. Human resource development (HRD), Organisational development (OD) and Institutional development (ID) are the parts and levels on which an organisation can be analysed and strengthened. Besides the technical component, the human components plays an important role in having a dynamic and flourishing organisation. More about the human dimensions can be read in the Barefoot guide. Tools for organisational development are listed at the icco-cad pbwiki, a joint website were resources on capacity development are shared.

The last part of the course dealt with the dilemmas of capacity developmet. The Togetthere and ICCO capacity development 'Young Professionals' share their experiences on how to deal with their dilemma's and questions at the blogspot ' Everything you always wanted to know about capacity development'.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

New ideas on how to do facilitation!

"I gained new ideas on how to do facilitation, I learned a lot, both on skills and methods. The training had a good balance of theory and practise. The course had a good flow and we worked in a safe and relaxed atmosphere."
These were some of the comments of 6 staff from ICCOenKerkinActie who participated on 28-29 april 2010 in the training facilitation methods. In two days participants got acquainted with the basic principles of facilitation, learned new methods and gained practical experience. The training had a same design as the public training on facilitation in Nijmegen, 26 - 27 april.

The training provided space for new creative ways of facilitation. Two participants were inspired by the book "Creativiteit Hoe? zo! from Igor Bytebier". They facilitated an associative workshop on the competencies of an effective facilitator.
For most the 2-days training was too short. "I would have liked more. The training was inspiring! I discovered, I would like to go on with facilitation."