Please read the following "Harvest" that summarizes our recent Tigrinya Language Community Cafe. A big thanks to G2L's Zeineb Mohammed and her team of volunteers for organizing this great event!
Community Café Conversation
Eritreans Residence of SeaTac and TukWila
Workshop Report 1
- Zeineb Mohammed
- Habte Sibhatleab
- Afewrki Gebreiyesus
- Ghebrehiwet Ghebremedhin
Communication is a means, among many others, that enables communities to change. Here, “Change” means reflecting a difference in the level of knowledge, attitude, practice, and behavior with respect to environment where the change is happening. As humans are learning animals, tremendous changes have been going on the way people live, and it will never culminate. It would rather continue in perpetuity.
Most communities living in the developed world nowadays possess diverse origin and background, having different values and culture, besieged with different tasks that they are required to do in order to come into grips with new context. These realities together with the existing socio-cultural, economic, policy, and overall developmental settings and situations represent opportunities and strengths at one side and weaknesses and threats on the other side.
When people get together and discuss issues of common concern, workable programs can be drawn. Genuine participation, however, need to be ensured for successes of a plan of activities to be realized. The beneficiaries need to be the planners, executers, monitors, and evaluators.
Global to Local (G2L) is an initiative working in the realization of the wellness of the communities in SeaTac and Tukwila areas. As part of its activities, it organized a Community Café Conversation Training on February 4, 2012. Experts shared participants of the training with skills to host community café discussions. Eritreans who participated in the training workshop are Zeineb, Habte, Afewerki, and Ghebrehiwet. The event, which gave them chance to know each other, inspired them and sought of making a community café discussion forum immediately with the support of G2L.
Since March, the team conducted meetings once or twice a week. Robin (Consultant) has participated in some of the meetings where she shared her expertise. The meetings helped the organizing team in getting wider perspective on social issues – an area preferred for sake of specificity. In addition, the team discussed and prepared an invitation – flier. In the meetings, updates have been made on the state of the number of participants that are surely to attend. On the agenda of the workshop, tremendous discussions went on, and it was shared with Robin, Janet, and Adam from G2L.
Further, on the logistical aspect, G2L covered expenses for food, child care, stationary, bus pass, and venue.
The objectives of the workshop are:
- To encourage interested Eritreans to discuss their common social opportunities and seek ways to utilize them.
- To identify and agree on the essential measures to address social bottlenecks to the wellness of communities.
The effectiveness and sustainability of such gatherings and subsequent ones require resources. For this workshop, the following resources were employed.
Robin, Janet, and Adam have been instrumental in shaping the event by providing invaluable suggestions and comments.
Mr. Alem’s success story about his experience in this country, in view of the feasibilities and advantages of working in communities, has been instrumental in shaping the group discussions.
The organizing team committed its time in preparing and facilitating the event.
Financial expenses attributed to food, bus-pass, child care, and logistical support for the stationery and venue have been covered by G2L.
The room was scented with aroma of coffee that was prepared traditionally. Besides, traditional food was served. Moreover, traditional clothing and musical instruments have been displayed. Above all, the coffee was served in such a way that participants would feel at ease.
Participants represented youth and elderly, men and women, boys and girls. Altogether, participants counted 23. The participants vowed to ensure a multiplier effect by bringing more people in consequent events.
Contents of the workshop
The introductory speech was a welcoming one and a brief note of the event. It highlighted the preparatory activities made and efforts exerted by the organizing team and support extended from G2L. It also noted the objective of organizing the event. The context for the conversation was introduced as to focus on the social aspects with respect to the wellness of families in general and children in particular, contents of the event were read.
Mr. Alem’s Success Story
Mr. Alem Gezehey is a resident in SeaTac. Per the invitation forwarded to him to share his success story and experiences of the advantages of working through communities, he highlighted that residing in this country would grant ample opportunities and challenges on social, economic, and cultural lives of people. The issue here is that communities lack capacities in identifying opportunities that help them prosper. Eritrean community is not an exception. Strategies that help communities and residents identify opportunities promote the prosperity of communities. Efforts need to be made to boost the realization of these strategies. He thanked the organizing team, and urged participants to bolster their participation toady and upcoming events.
Participants divided themselves into groups and discussed on social issues, vis-a-vis health, education, stability, relationship and communication with respect to the discussion points provided to them. The discussions points are as follows:
- We all want to ensure wellness of our children. There are many opportunities that enable us satisfy our wants. Yet, serious problems seem to prevail that hinder us from recognizing such opportunities and strengths. In your group, identify these opportunities and strengths and elaborate on how residents maximize their efforts to make use of these virtues.·
- Our dreams are to ensure prosperity and wellness in families. These dreams, however, can only be realized when many stumbling blocks can be trespassed. In the respective group, such obstacles/weaknesses will be identified and solutions will be sought.
- Considering the two opposite situations in life – opportunities/strengths versus threats/weaknesses – the groups will reconcile and recommend workable activities (what, where, when, how). Make sure these recommendations assist in the realization of our dreams.
The outcome of the group discussions were presented as follows:
Identifying and elaborating Opportunities and strengths
- Networked social fabric and extended family relationship
- Possession of a perception that “Family is a bases of community’s prosperity”
- Adequate health services and facilities
- Adequate educational services and facilities
- Adequate communication channels such as telephone, Internet…
- Adequate support services or agencies, facilities/ and systems
Identifying and elaborating Weaknesses and threats
- Limited English proficiency
- Limited skills
- Limited education and communication
- Limited exposure
- Unbalanced diet
- Family safety
- Job security and source of income
- Youth Peer influence
Bridging and recommendations
- Provision of trainings on diabetes, blood pressure, nutrition, stress management, life skills, HIV/AIDS, Communication Education
- Forming sport teams of youth, children, women’s Gymnasium
- Production and distribution of information, education and communication materials relevant to our community
- Provision of counseling services
- Forming of subgroups based on inclination such as women, men, youth, children
- Provision of mother tongue education
- Provision of tutorial support to youth and adults
- Provision of English language education to new comers
- Production and distribution of materials related to school success and educational materials
- Awarding outstanding students and take them as models to multiply excellency
Recommendations that need immediate attention
Participants mentioned of two issues that require immediate intervention.
- Forming Youth Sport Team:
According to participants, there are around 30 youth who can be grouped into a team. These people are in need of immediate attention, as some of them are engaged in unhealthy activities. Therefore, it is important that these people be brought into a team that they can be involved in sport activities before it is too late. Participants of the workshop assured of their contribution in organizing the team.
- Producing and distributing Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials
IEC materials are essential in teaching communities and assisting access local resources. Thus, the participants suggested of the immediate need that many of the IECs in English be translated into Tigrigna and made accessible to users.
Sustainability is a factor of commitment, participations, belongingness, support system, funding, etc. The organizing team is committed to keep its passion and persistence in organizing more and more events. As usual, G2L’s commitment will spearhead the efforts into tangible results. Moreover, participants’ fruitful ideas during the event will help in the actualization of our dreams. They have already reflected their commitment in propagating the cause and their participation in subsequent events is guaranteed.
Nothing is better than working in team. In TEAM, Together Everyone Achieves More. The TEAM work effort to host this community café conversation has been a success. It is a success because a foundation for a stronger community has already been established in people’s commitments to contribute to sustain this work. The next steps are to persistently work on the ideas that came up from the participants and work as a community to implement the strategies they have identified.