Civic Empowerment Groups Continue

 In General

December 12, 2010

It’s another calm day in Port-au-Prince and Petion-Ville. Like yesterday, there is very limited public transportation. This means that normal activities cannot happen. People are also concerned about possible sudden eruptions. Thus, most people stay close to home.

But, our Civic Empowerment groups are meeting! I (John Engle) and so impressed by my Haitian colleagues and how they keep pushing on in spite of immense challenges. Yesterday four groups met, two of them are in Sean Penn’s Camp and had 26 and 27 participants. Another in Leogane had 33 participants. Normally, groups don’t meet Sunday but today at least one group is meeting because they were not able to meet last week. Groups that didn’t meet last week are working to find days this week to make up, in addition to doing their regularly scheduled meetings.

Below are photos and video of group that I visited yesterday morning. (Click here to see more photos that can be downloaded in high res)

Using a Haitian adaptation of Touchstones Discussion Method, individuals in these groups are developing skills in listening, thinking critically, and communicating their thoughts. Over time, groups become more conscious of group dynamics: who is talking and who is not and how do we make sure a few don’t dominate and that some voices never get heard? Are we tolerant and respectful of people who see things differently? Are we willing to acknowledge our weaknesses and admit that we could be wrong?

People develop skills that help them to better work out problems, find solutions, and to collaborate effectively. Once the groups spend a number of weeks reading and discussing short thought-provoking texts–Aristotle, Plato, the Bible, Darwin, African and Haitian stories, etc.–they will then begin reading and discussing the Haitian Constitution. During the three months, the groups will also plan and realize two Open Space meetings, which are highly participative meetings that help people to work effectively on issues that they determine to be important.

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