Monday, 28 December 2009

Formation Wiki PMA Mali du 21 au 24 déc 2009 Ségou

Nom de l’atelier
Formation sur le Web 2.0. (Outils ComPart) des acteurs du Programme Multi Acteurs d’Alphabétisation au Mali ( PMA –Mali) - Ségou, 21-24 décembre 2009

Contexte et justification
Dans le soucis de maximaliser les échanges d'information, d'expériences, les partenaires d’ICCO (PMA Mali) Programme Multi Acteurs d'Alphabétisation au Mali avaient reçu une formation en wiki, en octobre 2008 au Burkina en même temps que leurs homologues de ce pays et du sénégal.

Cette formation a permis aux participants d'apprécier l'importance d'un tel outil dans un processus multi acteurs.

Cependant tout au long de la première année d'utilisation, des difficultés majeures n'ont pas permis à la plupart des acteurs d'exploiter cet outil précieux de travail, limitant ainsi les échanges et correspondances attendus.

Pour corriger cette insuffisance, il a été inscrit dans le sous programme national du PMA, un renforcement conséquent des capacités des acteurs en outils Web 2.0 et en Wiki, pour cette deuxième phase 2009 2010,en vue leur utilisation à hauteurs de Souhait.


But de la formation:

Aider les partenaires d’ICCO (PMA Mali) à comprendre les avantages de l’utilisation du Web 2.0 et ses outils. Objectifs du renforcement :
  • Familiariser les partenaires du PMA Mali avec les outils du web 2.0 en tant que outils de développement du travail en réseau
  • Renforcer la synergie entre les partenaires du PMA Mali à travers une intensification des importations et exportations de connaissances et expériences ;
  • Développer le wiki et ses outils pour l’amélioration de l’interaction circulaire au sein du réseau
  • Améliorer la qualité du travail à travers une communication interne et externe plus efficace et plus efficiente
  • Développer les capacités techniques des acteurs du réseau en matière de communication



Les travaux de groupe riche en partage


Planification

  1. Présentation du Web 2.0 et ses outils collaboratifs
  2. Présentation des outils ComPart
  3. Présentation du Wiki ;
  4. Exercices pratique sur le Wiki
  5. Exercice pratique sur Picture Manager pour les photos
  6. Exercice Pratique sur Movie Maker pour les Video
  7. Formatage de textes en format de mise en ligne (bloc notes)
  8. Exercice Pratique sur Flickr et slideo ;
  9. Travaux de groupe sur les mises en lignes de contenus
  10. Présentation des travaux de groupe
  11. Editer, modifier et commenter les contenus

Ce qu'ils gagneront
Connaître le Web 2.0:
  • Se familiariser avec les outils Web 2.0 ;(ComPart)
  • Savoir traiter les textes, les photos et videos en format web
  • Créer un espace dans le wiki pour les partenaires et l’alimenter
  • Apprendre à faire des mises en lignes de contenus (Textes, Photos, Vidéos…)
  • Apprendre à modifier, éditer et commenter des contenus…
  • La visibilité sur l’ensemble des actions de projets pour les partenaires et bailleurs


Discussions au tour du repas de midi


Methodologie
La méthodologie de l’atelier reposera sur les principes: faire, faire avec et faire faire. Elle privilégiera des activités pédagogiques telles que les exposé, les exercices pratiques, les discussions en plénières, les travaux en sous-groupes, les témoignages des participants, etc..

Resultats attendus
  • Les partenaires du PMA Mali sont capables d’expliquer les outils du web 2 (wiki, blog, dgroup) et de démontrer comment les utiliser
  • Le Wiki du programme multi-acteur Mali est redynamisé et fonctionne correctement
  • Les partenaires utilisent le wiki et ses outils pour les échanges d’informations et d’expériences
  • La communication interne et externe est plus fluide
  • L’interaction entre les partenaires est améliorée

Resultats obtenus
Se trouvent sur les liens suivants:


Mme Sy Haoua Coulibaly Chargée de Communication
Réseau Plaidoyer et Lobbying (RPL)


M Boukader Sandy Chef de mission P.M.A
(Programme Multi Acteurs) Tombouctou

Les mots d'evaluation

A travers les methodes d'evaluation adoptées tous les jours par les participants eux mêmes, il ressort ce qui suit:
  1. Developper un outils de communication instantané chat (ecrit, vocal... ex genre Skype) au tour du wiki afin de favoriser l'apprentissage mutuel et rester connecter de façon permanente et voir les membres du reseaux en ligne pour faciliter d'avantage la vulgarisation de l'information qui est incontournable pour le développement; en tant que facilitateur j'ai pensé à AT&T connect qui peut valablement repondre à cette demande et répondre efficacement aux nombreuses attentes.
  2. Organiser des formations de recyclage pour permettre de toucher des points et aspect innovants en la matière pour faciliter l'atteinte des objectifs.
  3. Rester en réseaux via le wiki pour plus de visibilités, d'entraide et de partages.
Bonne et heureuse année 2010, meilleurs vœux de bonheur, santé et succès dans toute nos entreprises

Ségou le 25 décembre 2009

Oudou Bengaly

Friday, 11 December 2009

Strategizing on Value Chain Development

On 2 and 3 December 2009 a workshop was held on ICCO experiences with value chain development (VCD) programmes. The workshop addressed staff from the FSED (Fair and Sustainable Economic Development) department of ICCO/Kerkinactie in Utrecht, as well as some Value Chain facilitators from the field.

The first day was spent on reflection around the different strategies for Value Chain Development (VCD) and the different roles ICCO/Kerkinactie can play in this (4 roles of Capacity Building, Strategic Financing, Brokering and Lobby and Advocacy). From the discussions during the first day a number of key issues emerged.

The second day was used to systematically describe these issues: what is the issue, why is it important, what are factors for success & main challenges and what recommendations can be made to ICCO and its partners.

This process resulted in 11 wiki pages for the recently developed VCD wiki, which aims at becoming a digital platform for knowledge development of ICCO staff and ICCO partners. The wiki can be accessed via the compart toolbar -> flowers -> Sustainable and Fair Economic Development -> value chain development. The pages created by the participants can be viewed via the navigator (top right margin) or side bar (bottom right margin)

The workshop was held in a positive and dynamic atmosphere, and managed to take a bit of fear out of ‘working with wikis’. See the blip below from Rogier Verschoor to get an impression from one of the participants directly:



Read the wiki for the highlights of the workshops on the issues of: programmatic approach; business development services; ICCO/Kerkinactie role in participation in businesses & farmers as shareholders.



By Angelica Senders, André Vording and Rob Witte

Monday, 7 December 2009

Experiences about a ComPart/Web2.0 training in Luanda, Angola

Yesterday I arrived in Luanda for a ComPart/Web2.0 training for two networks (Education for All – Rede APT-Angola- and Hiv/Aids - Rede Esperança). Right after my arrival I was surprised by some nice changes in comparison to last year. The airport is improved – much easier and faster to get through all the formalities – and some road were remarkably smooth (without holes everywhere). This is the way Angola is preparing itself for the Africa cup which will take place in January 2010.

However this fact also seems to have some less positive (side) effects as we experienced this morning during the first day of the training. It appears that the usage of internet has increased so much lately that connection ahs become an (even bigger) problem than it already was. The organizers had arranged for a good venue with more than 15 computers with internet connection; however none of them really could connect because of congestion on the main servers in town. Luckily one of the participants had a USB modem which did work, although loading an average page took between 15 en 25 seconds. This meant the participants were not able to practice by themselves, which meant they had to do something like learning to drive a car without having a car (and sometimes not even knowing how a car looks like and wherefore to use it). So this really was a challenge. However demonstrating some basics seemed to attract the attention and when we came up to uploading pictures an videos the interest clearly grew.

Besides the connectivity issue and the not so very well developed PC-usage skills, it struck me most that the participants were so eager to learn about all these new possibilities and tools. That really is motivating and challenges creativity to try to explain what it is all about and how it works. My expectations for the coming two days are not very high anymore, however I do hope the participants will be challenged to try and play for themselves afterwards at their office or in Internet cafes at moments the connectivity is better.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

ComPart support for the workshop on value chain development

After the successful experience of using ComPart to document and report from the International Working Conference (September 2009), we're in Bunnik today and tomorrow supporting a workshop on value chain development programmes organised by the SFED department.

Since the re-organization in 2007, when the Social and Fair Economic Development (SFED) department was created, ICCO made a great leap in the development of SFED programmes all over the world. Now, three years later it is time to look back and forward.

In particular, looking at value chain development programmes, what has been achieved? What are the successes elements and the difficulties faced? What are the challenges for the future? Which possible directions to take?

Some 20 people both from the central office as well as regional offices are discussing these issues, comparing notes and share experiences in VCD programmes, taking stock of lessons learned and from here developing strategies for future work.

In this sense, the event is taking the form of a writeshop: experiences shared, reflections, lessons learned as well as recommendations will be recorded and put on a wiki during the workshop. A series of 'blips' will also be recorded to capture the converstaions as their are happening and share them with a wider audience.

Stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Burkina: Formation Wiki des membres du Conseil d'Administration du CCEB

Du 15 au 19 septembre 2009 s'est tenue dans les locaux de l'association ANTBA à Ouagadougou, une session de formation des membres du conseil d'administration du CCEB. Ladite session de formation portait sur le management de projet et le leadership ainsi que sur l'utilisation du wiki.

La formation sur le wiki, visait à outiller les membres du Conseil d'Administration à la communication stratégique par les outils Web2 notamment le wiki.

Le contenu de la formation s'articulait autour des points:
  • créer une page;
  • créer des lien;
  • éditer une page;
  • uploader une image et l'insérer dans une page wiki;
  • formater une image au format web avant publication sur le wiki;
  • insérer un sous menu dans une page wiki.
Dans l'ensemble la formation s'est bien déroulé et les participants ont promis d'enrichir les pages de leur structure respective.


C'est donc sur une grande note de satisfaction que la session de formation en wiki prit fin.

Christophe HIEN, pour ComPart Afrique de l'Ouest

Monday, 21 September 2009

IWC09: Lessons learnt supporting the process

The ICCO-Alliance International Working Conference has come to an end last Friday. This conference was a success, many things have been thouroughly discussed and on essential issues agreements have been reached. So the ICCO-Alliance partners have a good basis to (quickly) build on the plans for the future.

In supporting this conference with over 120 people with sessions running in parallel, attempting to capture information for the group and allow access to a further 200 interested colleagues with passworded access, as "wiki-moderators" we are bound to have learnt a few lessons. Many of the approaches we have used here have been tried and tested elsewhere, but a few are new.

Social reporting
In a passworded context - discussing the business plan 2011-2015 for the ICCO-Alliance obviously is not public - means working in a more restricted space than we have been used to in previous work. Using Twitter in combination with blog posts, Slideshare and Blip.tv proved very powerful as a way of recording discussions at the EADI Information Management Working Group for example. There we could have an initial session to raise awareness of the new tools and then agree on some simple rules to tag all the materials and feature them through one site, while people published throughout the web. Last week we had to define what to share where and whith whom so things got a little bit more complicated.

Walled Web2
Instead in this situation we find ourselves relying on one 'walled garden' (the wiki) to record the internal deliberations, and report on the work in progress. Some products can be released to a broader audience to provide an idea of the process, and give some idea of the content (e.g. the post on this blog). However participation can still be social within this garden, but the barriers to contributing are higher and the motivations quite different. In comparison with some other meetings, this time many more traditional reporting tools were used; with summaries and presentations on flipcharts, and digital written content being rare. The wiki was not really embedded in the process of facilitation, (group reports could and/or should have been directly written and documented on the wiki) also because most delegates did not know how to contribute directly to the wiki.
Connectivity and contributions
The venue for the meeting (Kontakt der Kontinenten, Soesterberg) has superb connectivity, but with pressures of time, this is used in the breaks for catching up on emails and other work. As always during this type of meetings there was not much opportunity to review the contents of the wiki. However the documenting work was also meant to be used by those unable to attend (colleagues in the offices in Utrecht and overseas and members of Regional Councils and partners organisations). Of course it can also already be seen to be a future resource for continuing discussions and developing ideas after the meeting.

Multiple channels
What has struck us all about the meeting is the multiple channels being used to communicate the activities during this week. Screens in the common areas ran the 10 minute daily news bulletin which featured activities from that day. Short videos (blips) were used to capture content from the sessions which could be shared with a broader public such as work on the gender policy and regional analysis. These blips were also used to illustrate the process log showing the work of the facilitators and the cartoonist. Presentations were shared on Slideshare and photos through Flickr, this meant they could be available to others.

Multiple approaches
A number of approaches have been used by the facilitators of the meeting. We have changed the way we cover the outcomes of these activities. As the approach to presenting and capturing information is primarily paper based and verbal in the way the process has been organised we have had to rely on photos of flipcharts and audio to quickly capture materials.

Methodologies such as the timeline have been proven to bring identity and understanding to a community, and this way of introducing the discussion on values worked well. By using tools such as the online timeline we were quickly able to showcase the discussions and feature on the wiki and the blog.

PBworks
Again the PBworks platform has proved itself with the speed with which templates for pages can be created, files uploaded (directly transformed in wiki pages) and linked and large volumes of information managed. The spellchecker proved itself as high speed note taking affected the accuracy of data entry. A production line where photos of flipcharts could be uploaded into tables and transcribed later made the wiki a significant reference resource.

What would we change
To start with, we think that working with the wiki needs to be more embedded in the facilitation of the meeting. In developing ideas where virtual discussion will have to continue after the meeting, materials need to be captured as early as possible. Whilst not every group could have worked easily around a screen to report their thoughts, some could have and this would improve capturing the details of the meeting. We need to see when the notes made in word by group members appear on the wiki later.

Further, we needed more preparation in promoting the wiki, improving ease of access for participants, and considering distribution of printouts (this was limited by environmental concerns). It is also important when working like this to integrate communication and facilitation support, something that proved its value as the conference progressed.

Overall feeling
This was a demanding assignment but very worthwhile for the value it brought to some of the participants and management. It proved to be an opportunity to be innovative in some areas. It was an opportunity to see and combine new approaches and to build a communication vehicle for ongoing discussions and a channel for feedback in the conference.

The ComPart admin team (Pier, Chris and Maarten)

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Thursday, 17 September 2009

IWC09: Co-creating plans

In line with the participatory cooking exercise of the night before, the third day of the 2009 IWC focused on 'co-creation': based on the outcomes of the conversations as they emerged from the previous days, participants were asked to make choices and create clarity about the priorities and the main foundations of the future work of the ICCO Alliance.

A solo-refection exercise allowed participants to find some time and space to think back and and digest the ideas that have been emerging in the conference so far, and to define their vision for the future of the ICCO Alliance. The plenary feedback session created then the ground for the open space, where participants divided themselves into groups. They flashed out concrete suggestions on how the ICCO Alliance should work in the coming periods, for example in terms of identity and values, priority themes and burning issues, country choice etc.

Very concrete recommendations and proposals were made, forming a rather solid basis to build upon and to further develop. The common feeling was that the seeds for something new and different have been planted, and that the conversation has been scaled up significantly.

A contribution to today's process has been made also by ICCO staff joining for a cabaret performance. This is an established tradition in the ICCO Utrecht office, and it was great to have a snapshot of this year upcoming programme.

David Kabiswa from ACET in Uganda shared with us some of his reflections on the day. He truly appreciated the process and the fact that enough time was given to reflect and to dive deep into the content of the matters, coming up with concrete suggestions for the work the Alliance should focus on in the coming time.



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Wednesday, 16 September 2009

IWC09: A recipe for success

The International Working Conference has focussed on all the participants working together to develop the ideas and strategies that underpin the future work of the ICCO Alliance.

This evening this was taken one step further with participants not only working together in the conference, but cooking their own dinner together in the kitchen.

This meeting has been using a number of innovative approaches to ensuring participation in the process, visualising ideas and concepts through cartoons, summarising the conference each day in a news bulletin and keeping remote and conference participants informed through a wiki and this blog.

The cookery class comes at the end of an intensive day where small groups have been working in parallel to develop approaches to different issues throughout the day. This process will continue tomorrow with pesrnal reflections from the participants and an open space sessions to further deepen into the issues and provide specific recommendations for the ICCO Alliance work.

As we sit down to write this we are still waiting to taste the meal from the joint cooking activity, but lets hope that "Too many cooks don't spoil the broth" and that they can stand the heat and stay in the kitchen.

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IWC09: The Marketplace

Tuesday afternoon was the opportunity to hear more about regional office initiatives and thematic initiatives in a marketplace format. Participants visited 10 stands setup to explain the activities of the Alliance and some of the plans underway on a thematic and regional basis. As an example two of the stands are illustrated below, one for Central and Eastern Africa, and one for the approach to a gender strategy for the Alliance.

Central and Eastern Africa
Joyce Umbima (Member RC Central, East Africa) reviews discussions about Central and East Africa, explaining the context, challenges and opportunities for her region.



Gender Strategy
Margreet Mook (ICCO) describes the findings so far in developing the gender strategy for the ICCO Alliance.




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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

IWC09: A picture is worth a thousand words

Sitting in a tricky management meeting, a colleague pointed out to Mark de Koning that the cartoon he had doodled in the margin of his notes might break the ice in the meeting. The use of his cartoons in that meeting was so successful that he discovered a new career.

An ex-fireman and facilitator Mark has not looked back since, as he says himself in the video below judge for yourself how good he is at it.



With the series of cartoons he produced yesterday he has managed to capture the spirit of the discussions and some interesting insights into the topics.

He has covered the process of setting values, illustrated the topics such as stewardship, working together, the justice debate and interactions with donors with a few pen strokes.

He explains how cartoons in meetings can provide a shortcut in designing projects and provoke debate as well as providing a way to visualise complex ideas.

Take a look at Mark's cartoons and decide which is your favorite.

Visit his site for more background.

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IWC09: The value of History

Following the 'co-sensing' theme for the day, the working conference focussed on sharing experiences and drawing on these experiences to plan the future. In particular to draw on the experience of over 40 years of ICCO Alliance members working for development to identify values for the future.

The first working session saw 120 people reflecting on their joint history of experiences in development. The process looked back to 1965 and forward to 2019. Participants recorded global events, their organisations activities and personal events during that time.


From the Beatles to 9/11 and beyond

It was fascinating to see the how the changes in the global environment and changes in daily life had impacted on the activities of the organisations represented at the meeting. New communication opportunities arose with the development of email and electronic communications in the late 1980's early 1990s. Face to face networking and new alliances were influenced by the fall in cost of international travel. The shift in the power dynamics in the development sector was also reflected in the timeline as civil society organisations developed in the the 1980s and ICCO shifted to a rights based approach in the late 1990s. The different alliances and management approaches evolved during the timeline, and this lead into the summarising of each decade of history to produce a series of shared values that participants wanted to see reflected in future plans for the ICCO Alliance.

The timeline
The events and actions of the organisations are recorded in the timeline below:


^ drag the button to follow the timeline

Values
The values that informed the work through the decades were assembled and summarised. To provide food for thought four values were highlighted:
  • Justice
  • Compassion
  • Working together
  • Respect for differences
Participants were invited to discuss how they understood these values and how they have been reflected into ICCO Alliance work.

Justice
There was some discussion as to whether justice was an aim and working together was a methodology rather than being values.

The argument developed when focussed on the example of working on justice as a value in Palestine between staff there and the Netherlands relied on working together in equality. It was therefore the equality of the relationship which was the value and justice an aim.

There was generally a big discussion over the issue of justice and whether it should take presedence over peace. To get peace agreements you may have to sacrifice justice. A focus on justice can hinder peace agreements where compromise is required.

Compassion
It was raised that compassion for those who suffer from injustice is essential. The question was then posed as to how could the alliance reflect compassion in the new organisation.

Perhaps it is easier when translating values into attitude. When talking about compassion people think of old fashioned notions of charity but really it is a question of listening and respect. This issue will be elaborated in the session of Wednesday.

Perhaps compassion can be most clearly demonstrated through developing strategies where the poorest of poor are reached. A recent University of Amsterdam study shows that development assistance has reached middle range of poverty but not the very poor. This could be a demonstration of seeking justice and demonstrating compassion. One test should be that we want this for ourselves, e.g. a public health system, a venue where you would go for medical assistance, don't make it "just enough" for the beneficiaries.

Working together
It is easier to do things for than with people. This is why it is so important to show respect for differences when working with others. The discussions around the importance of working together came back to issues of respect, equality and justice.

Respect for differences
When the North feel they are too tough they withdraw and call it respect.
The question of accountability is funding. The voices of the critics have been taken on board and we have a new way of working. Co-responsibility may be the answer, but this is not enough. There is a responsibility for stewardship, to preserve the environment together. If we take charcoal energy resources at the speed we do now it destroys livelihoods in South and North. There is a common duty to stop this.

Values are not something separate from the work, it is essential to measure everything we do by these values. Two different levels of values Individual and Organisations.

The discussion suggested remembering some non negotiable standards, for example transparency and equality. Other values that were raised comprise: courage, hope and inspiration.

As the ICCO Alliance is moving into a larger group values should not all be open to negotiation. For example, being brave, the need to be courageous, the need to be open, do not compromise.

This discussion gave a bigger and broader understanding of the values to take forward tomorrow in the group working on the topic of values for the ICCO alliance.


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Monday, 14 September 2009

IWC09: A new way of working

“A power shift","An open environment", "A meeting without decisions already made", "A chance to put our hands where our mouths are”. These are some of the sentences used by Jack van Ham in his introduction to the pre-meeting of the ICCO Alliance Working Conference.

In traditional meetings of this type normally much of the material would have been prepared before the event and participants would have discussed decisions already formulated in advance. Instead, this International Working Conference provides the opportunity to do things differently: participants will be working during the all week to "go home on Friday with new thoughts and ideas on how the ICCO Alliance will be working in the coming years."

Jack continues: "Do we have the courage to start this adventure? Is it possible to find common grounds among the different cultures involved in this process? We'll see Friday if we succeeded." However, defining a new way of working is paramount, as development cooperation has changed and there is a clear power-shift happening. An example of these is the case of the ICCO Alliance approaching a community in India to purchase carbon credits. This power shift where a donor becomes a customer for carbon credits and a poor community is selling a product changes the perspective. Clearly, we need to adapt to it.

Besides, the environment for the Alliance is changing in other ways too. Tomorrow the Government budget negotiations in the Netherlands will be held. This will probably mean a 700 million Euro cutback for development. This means the group will need new ways to be more creative with the money we have.

There is a great expectation, but also some nervousness, about the degree to which this IWC can put these new ideas into action, to in effect "put our hands where our mouth is." There is also excitement that new thoughts and ideas can emerge and that the group of participants can take co-responsibility for the way forward.

The pre-conference workshop is focussing on governance issues and structure, with participants discussing how the new governance structure will be working and outlining the mandate and roles of the different actors involved.

Participants will also have the opportunity to share and to discover their expectations of this working conference, and get to know each others.

Jack's final remark set the tone for the rest of the conference: "If you don’t have purpose it doesn’t matter how you work; if you do have a purpose, you need to agree how you want to work; if you want to walk fast, then walk alone; but if you want a sustainable solution you have to walk together."

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International Working Conference kicks-off

The International Working Conference of the ICCO Alliance kicks off today in Soesterberg. For the next five days, staff of ICCO and Alliance organisations, together with representatives of the Regional Councils, the International Advisory Council and Regional Working Offices will discuss, shape and define the new ways the organisation will be working in the coming years.

Before diving into the content, which will be dealt with in the next 4 days, the programme for this 'day zero' of the Conference focuses entirely on the governance structure of the organisation. It is in fact paramount to define the way ICCO will be working in the coming years and outline mandate and roles of the different actors involved.

The room is full with some 50 people from the International Advisory Council, the Regional Councils, and the Regional Working Offices. The people come from different countries and each of them has a different background in terms of relations with ICCO; some didn't know ICCO before being involved with it; others were vaguely familiar with it; some have been involved with ICCO partner's organisations; others knew about it through their association to ecumenical networks. This provides a great richness and diversity to built upon for the coming days of the conference. Talking around small tables of 5/6 people, the participants introduces themselves and get to know each other by sharing their stories, and exchanging their first thoughts about the conference. Some burning questions are already put on the table, and they will be addressed in the coming days.

This will prepare the ground for the the main part of the conference, starting tomorrow and lasting until Friday. Ingrid Richter and Ben Arikpo, two of the facilitators of the event, describe in the video below how the programme of the conference has been set up and what the process flow of the event will look like.



The objective is to "build community" and support participants in getting to know each other and capture the perspectives that are in the room. The facilitators will lead participants through a series of conversations about what's important for the future, which values they want to come alive and what are the priorities to focus on. Most important, as also mentioned by Jack van Ham in his introductory remarks, a lot of co-creation will come out from the conference: there's no pre-defined document that states these values and policies that people need to agree upon; instead, the real outcomes will be defined together by participants as the conference progresses.

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Reaching those outside the International Working Conference 2009

The ICCO Alliance is becoming a global player with decisions advised by partners and Regional Councils around the world. This implies a change in the way they do business. As Jack van Ham emphasized in opening the ICCO Working Conference a new way of working must be devised. This changes the way the physical face to face meeting takes place, but also the way that those who can’t attend can interact with participants.

The physical meeting is held in the Kontact der Kontinenten, but the virtual home of the meeting is a wiki. This focuses links to the various ways the meeting is recorded. Background documents, materials and presentations are augmented by short video interviews (blips), blog stories and continually updated wiki pages.

In planning this recording it is important to arrange parallel tasks. A reporter role for the sessions is arranged in relay, with more than one person recording, one in detail for the wiki, and one drawing stories for the blog.

The process followed the steps below:
  • Preparation of a wiki platform to hold background, logistics and schedule information for the meeting.
  • Promotion of participation through the wiki, with nearly 400 people being invited to the passworded wiki.
  • A focus on the process and determining how this could be recorded.
  • A focus on the participants and all actors to consider how their thoughts and activities could be recorded.
Preparation
The wiki is prepared with the participation of the organisers and facilitators to present the instructional and logistical content for participants.

Promotion
The promotion of the use of the wiki for the meeting is made through a series of emails, linking to the relevant content uploaded onto the wiki. Participants are then invited individually to have access to the passworded wiki.

Recording the process
The working conference needs to link with an overall story. The scene setting requires a story from the organizers, a clarification of the process, a description of forthcoming activities, the sessions to cover during the week and the final conclusions. The wiki is updated live with key questions, observations and findings as they emerge in the discussions.

Viewpoints of the participants
Having set the context the wiki needs to reflect the views of as many participants as possible. With this in mind a series of blips must be arranged ideally considering that participants interview each other. These arranged feedback must be accompanied by encouragement to add comments to the wiki and encouragement for those remotely participating.

A structured news session each evening is produced on video to record key points raised during the day, produced by the ICCO comunication and IT department . This 10 minute bulletin is broadcast every evening at 8pm, see the site.

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Thursday, 3 September 2009

Great expectations generated by ComPart training

Last week, Rimisp concluded the first cycle of the ComPart approach training sessions delived online to ICCO staff and partners in Latin America. The cycle included 3 sessions that focused on web 2.0 collaborative platforms, such as blogs and wikis, as well as a number of online tools to enhance the work of social and development organizations in the region.


Participants had the opportunity to learn about these tools and were able to practice online and in real time the concepts and techniques that were shown during the session.

The idea behind the training sessions was to provide people working within scattered teams with the tools and platforms available to make their collaboration easier.

The Rimisp team was pleased to receive positive comments from participants who have acknowledged the importance of these training sessions in their daily work. Samuel Baron, from Colombia, told us that after the training sessions, he has started using wikis to synthesis, share and update information from different team members located in various towns in Colombia. The wiki has allowed them to work collaboratively and in their own time.

The training sessions will continue and we hope participants will find them useful!

Friday, 7 August 2009

Online Community Building: Gardening vs Landscaping

We talk about the 'Compart Flowers' and use the metaphor of gardening when we discuss how to use the tools to work with different communities. Here's a link to a blog that uses the same metaphor and discusses the issue of how to support community building emergence. A quote: "So what's the secret to successfull community building? You guessed it: be a great gardener and avoid the temptation to landscape"

Thanks for the link to Peter Ballantyne, who is going to garden in ILRI from September. He'll be sorely missed from the Compart programme.

Pete Cranston

First blog training session receives participants´applauses

Just when you think that you have everything under control… technology never fails! Despite the technical difficulties we experienced this afternoon, we are proud to say that the first training session on blogs went really well… at least we hope!

Most of the registered participants attended the session and we also had a few more unexpected people, but we were happy to have them. The introduction about blogs that Diego prepared was interesting and with lots of details and information. But the best part came later with hands-on demonstrations on how to create blogs and how to post an entry on Blogger.com. We were very pleased to have so many questions and see how engaged people were. Didn´t anticipate that at all! Even though Diego had some problems with his head-sets and couldn´t listen to other people’s comments, he was able to conduct the training session really well and he answered most of people’s queries. The fact is that time went by super fast and there wasn´t enough time to address all the important comments and concerns people had.

Well, that just means that there is great demand from people to learn more about web 2.0 tools and great opportunities for the ComPart approach. We are glad to contribute to this and help people get involved.

Overall, I think this was a real team effort! Getting organized to overcome the technology shortcomings, exchanging headphones in the middle of the sessions so Diego could hear what others were saying, asking participants what their questions were and passing them on to Diego and getting a list of participants and their organizations and countries were some of the tasks that Virginia and I did for this first session.

But the results were great and most importantly people felt they gained something from the session. We gave them homework, though, and we really hope they go to the training blog and start posting. If they do, we’ll post them here pretty soon!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Using wiki for linking and learning in Indonesia

During the meeting ‘Working with wiki’s in development organisations’ I was inspired to also use a wiki in an upcoming conference I was co-organising in Indonesia. From 23 until 28 of June this conference was held and I think it was a success, also the wiki part of it, although the wiki still needs to prove itself…

I proposed the wiki to the organising committee three months before the conference as an instrument for the participants to keep in touch and exchange information after the conference. Everybody was immediately very enthusiastic, but were also a bit hesitant about the computer capabilities and internet facilities of all participants. In the end we decided to introduce the wiki to participants interested and capable of working with computers and internet; so voluntary and not an official part of the program.

We found an IT specialist from a partner organisation that was willing to guide and prepare the wiki process. This proved to be essential. He translated the wiki tutorial into Indonesian and trained a group of young people that would write the reports during the conference how to use the wiki so they could upload their reports on the wiki. He is now also the one people can ask questions to if they have a problem with the wiki.

By sending all participants the tutorial we tried to get people to use the wiki already before the start of the conference, but this was not a big success. Without training or introduction the step to start working on the wiki is too big. During the conference this was fully compensated though. Many participants liked the idea of a wiki, especially for its possibility to keep in touch with other partner organisations and to share information with each other. Almost all participants joined the (voluntary) wiki workshop, signed in and read the information. Some also placed comments or made their own page.

People are still a bit hesitant though with placing information on the wiki. One of the reasons for this is that people are not sure who else are reading all the information they put up there. We discussed closing the front page, so only people registered can see and join in on the wiki, but this only partly solves the problem and it also makes the information less accessible for people interested.

So introducing the wiki was a success, but whether it is useful for the future will depend on whether people will keep on adding information to it. By the way, if you want to check out our wiki, go to: diakonia.pbworks.com

By Miriam Nagtegaal

Friday, 24 July 2009

ComPart trainers satisfied with first session outcomes

ComPart trainers at Rimisp (Chile) thrilled at the end of the first online session this afternoon
The first ComPart online training session (Latin America) took place this afternoon and it went incredibly well! Thanks to the cooperation of technology, we had the participation of 18 people from Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, and Holland who were keen on learning about the ComPart approach. This first session was mostly about how to use the virtual conference tool (AT&T), a general overview of the ComPart Approach and how it's making a difference in people's daily work. After the first 10 minutes of training, people seemed comfortable using the main features of the conference tool and fortunately nobody seem to have major problems with technology!

Nobody had a sad or boring face after 1 hour and a half of being in front of their computers. We hope that the next training sessions go as smoothly as this one or even better! And that people really take advantage of all the material that is available for them not only during the training, but also only at http://compart.pbworks.com/main_es and http://compart.pbworks.com/Trabajar-con-ComPart

About one hour after the end of the online training, our email inboxes are getting full with so many registrations from more and more participants. And we are thrilled! You can also register for the next training session in the following links:

El fascinante mundo de la blogosfera: http://www.doodle.com/ferbwgq7y5zzmdfw
Como trabajar con una wiki y no morir en el intento: http://www.doodle.com/6y9ztkef76h4i4vr
Herramientas para ensalzar tu web: http://www.doodle.com/wcqz488db95urb75

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Huge demand for ComPart training sessions in Latin America

An overwhelming response received the organization Rimisp when it publicized its calendar of training sessions on the ComPart approach a few weeks ago. The Rimisp-ComPart team will deliver a series of online training workshops to ICCO staff and partners in the region. The topics selected for these workshops range from blogs, its use and management, to collaborative work using wikis. An overview of web 2.0 tools available online will also be part of the training sessions offered by Rimisp online, free and in Spanish!

Diego Reinoso, from Rimisp, processing registrations from ICCO partners interested in ComPart online traning sessions

The first session will take place tomorrow Thursday at 3:00pm (-4:00 GMT) which will have the participation of 40 people from various organizations based in countries such as Peru , Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Nicaragua.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

ComPart goes to Zimbabwe

Thetha – an Nguni verb meaning to talk, discuss, debate and share opinions/ideas. This is the name of SANGONeT’s information communication technology (ICT) forum, which provides NGOs with a platform to discuss challenges facing the sector broadly.

The overall objectives of the Thetha project is to raise awareness and inform a wide range of national, regional and international stakeholders about the expected ICT challenges and opportunities that will face the Southern African region in the next 10 years.

The five countries involved in the project are Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Thetha is kicking off on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 and is being organised and implemented in conjunction with E-Knowledge for Women in Southern Africa (EKOWISA), a Zimbabwean organisation. Representatives from government, the ICT industry, NGOs and the donor community will come together to discuss key “ICT for Development (ICT4D)” challenges and opportunities relevant to the future development of Zimbabwe.

The discussions will be informed by the “Contextualising ICT for Development in Zimbabwe” report that EKOWISA prepared in support of the event.

The forum will also promote practical applications that form part of SANGONeT's broader objective to increase the use and awareness of ICTs within the NGO sector in the region.This will be accomplished by introducing participants to the SANGONeT and African Commons Social Media for NGOs training. The one-day, hands-on training programme will teach participants of the wonderful world of web 2.0 tools and how they can be effectively used by you and the organisation to enhance operational practice.

As part of the partnership between ICCO/Euforic ComPart and SANGONeT, Zimbabwean ICCO partners are invited to this event, where they will learn how they can incorporate various social media platforms into their work and where we will introduce them to the ComPart approach and toolset!

In the non-profit sector where the scarcities of time, money and resources are always playing catch-up to our inspirational strategies, social media platforms can be really helpful tools. These free digital spaces can assist us with connecting, networking, researching and fundraising. It's time that we began to engage with them!

More information on the Zimbabwe Forum Discussion can be found here.

We are looking forward to meeting ICCO partners in Zimbabwe!

Nicolle Beeby, on behalf of SANGONeT

Friday, 10 July 2009

Public accountability in a nutshell

Reneé Speijcken is a researcher at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance. She conducted a research on 'the role of civil society organisResearch presentation accountabilityations in public accountability' for the ICCO Alliance. Special attention is paid to programmes that relate to education and democratisation. Yesterday, she presented her results at the ICCO Alliance head office.

Numerous debates are held on the effectiveness of development aid, whereby Civil Society Organisations are held accountable. This research focused however on Civil Society Organisations holding their governments into account. CSOs, for example play a role in ensuring that governments are on track in reaching formulated objectives like the Millennium Development Goals.

Renée Speijcken describes in a short interview what public accountability is and what it could mean for ICCO:

"Accountability is a way for citizens to hold their government or service providers into account for their behaviour or their performance. ICCO is in an excellent positions with its partners to strengthen citizen organisations to work on these issues."

The research results will contribute to the elaboration of ICCO and Kerk in Actie future vision and policy on public accountability.




I wonder what your government is or isn't doing to realise the MDGs? Can you blog about it (in any language) and hold them accountable?

By Stephanie Zwier

Read more on the End poverty campaign.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Embedding the Rights Based Approach in the daily work of development practicioners

Rights Based Approach meetingIncorporating the Rights Based Approach (RBA) into development practice is easier said than done. Today, the second day of a workshop on the Rights Based Approach was held at the ICCO head office in Utrecht.

Today's agenda involved an identification of the characteristics of the RBA. Emphasis was put on linking the conceptual framework of the RBA - discussed in the first day of the workshop - to the practical realities and difficulties participants from the Access to Basic Service department face.

Cornelieke Keizer and Lucy Royal-Dowson from Equalinrights facilitated the workshop. During the lunch break we sat with them and discussed their work, the importance of the RBA and how this should be incorporated into ICCO activities.

Cornelieke Keizer tells that Equalinrights started to collaborate with the Access to Basic Service department of ICCO to define RBA strategies and draw lessons for newly created the regional working offices.

Lucy Royal-Dawson explains that these workshops with ICCO staff aim to pull out the characteristics of the Rights Based Approach. The final outcome of this process should be a position paper by the Access to Basic Services department that defines how RBA strategies will be intergrated into ICCO's work.



Cornelieke Keizer highlights also "the importance of improving the implementation of the RBA" while Lucy Royal-Dowson encourages ICCO to adopt the RBA, since it is in line with its moralistic and ethical approach. They also advise to invest in capacity building and trainings to make sure the Rights Based Approach is incorporated in all levels of the ICCO Alliance.

Wilma Rozenga, one of the participants in the workshop, reflects on the workshop and the way forward.

She explains that the first day of the workshop focused more on the conceptualisation of the 'Rights Based Approach'. She much valued this second day of the workshop, because it related to the implementation of the RBA in her daily work. Wilma Rozenga sees challenges in how partner organisations can best implement the RBA in their daily work to reach the target population. Additionally, she sheds light on the future of the Rights Based Approach. The participants of the workshop will develop a position paper to ensure that partners will be helped to implement, communicate and monitor the Rights Based Approach.

By Stephanie Zwier

You will soon be able to read the full report of the workshop on the ICCO Alliance RBA wiki

Monday, 22 June 2009

PhD dissertation 'Passion at work' : Summary

The following is an excerpt from the PhD dissertation – Efimova, L. (2009). Passion at work: blogging practices of knowledge workers. Enschede, Netherlands: Novay.

PhD dissertation: Summary

Since their early days, weblogs have been envisioned as a prototype technology for enabling grass-roots knowledge management. However, while experiments with blogging are underway in many businesses, research that could inform them is limited. In this dissertation early adopters of weblogs are studied to develop an understanding of uses of weblogs in relation to work, and to provide insights relevant to introducing blogging in knowledge-intensive environments.

This research focuses on describing the blogging practices of knowledge workers. It is guided by a framework that provides a view of what knowledge work entails and includes tasks, the essence of one’s work, and enabling personal knowledge management activities, such as developing one’s knowledge and relationships over time.

The studies, included in this dissertation are complementary, rather than comparative. Each is focused on identifying practices of bloggers in relation to one or more parts of the knowledge work framework and combines an analysis of weblog artefacts (text, links, tags) with participant observation and interviews. PhD dissertation: Summary own blogging practices are part of the approach: Lilia Efimofa studied them in one of the cases, used her weblog as a reflexive journal to document the research process and integrated excerpts from it in the dissertation text.

The dissertation documents uses of a weblog as a personal knowledge base and an instrument for growing ideas from the early stages to a final product, as well as different uses of weblogs in a process of establishing and maintaining relationships. In both cases, blogging seems to be especially useful early in the process, helping to deal with fuzzy ideas and would-be relationships.
Although various conversational uses of weblogs are relatively well studied, this research adds insights on practices of participating in complex conversations distributed across posts and comments of multiple weblogs. The results describe not only the effort that goes into constructing these conversations from fragments and keeping an overview of them, but also their importance for both growing ideas and developing interpersonal relations between bloggers.

The findings suggest several characteristics of weblogs that contribute to a broader understanding of weblogs as a medium: their simultaneous uses for publishing, conversations with self and interaction with specific others, switches between personal and social, as well as opportunities that weblogs provide in crossing various boundaries. While weblogs are used to work on specific tasks that match with those characteristics, the open-ended and public nature of blogging makes it more valuable for enabling work indirectly through supporting sense-making conversations, developing ideas over time and being able to tap into one’s network when needed.

As well as providing an overview of work-related uses of weblogs in a variety of settings, this research documents the issues that arise as a result of those uses and gives insights about the changing nature of work that becomes increasingly digital, nomadic and networked. It documents various ways of integrating blogging with work, the tensions between personal and organisational perspectives around blogging, and individual choices that bloggers make to address these challenges. It shows the power of individual knowledge workers, who bypass existing authorities and use their networks to stay informed and to get things done; the blurred boundaries between what is personal and what is professional; and the growing need to know how to deal with transparency and fragmentation of one’s work.

Blogging in knowledge-intensive environments

On June 22 defends L. Efimova at the Utrecht University a remarkeable PhD thesis with the title: 'Passion at work Blogging practices of knowledge workers'.

Although the complete thesis (the whole book) can be read online I like to quote from Lilia's conclusions the description she gives of blogging practices in respect to ideas, to conversations, to relations, to working on specific tasks and to context:

* Weblogs are used to maintain awareness of the ideas “out there” through reading in small bites, using weblogs of others as trusted sources and own network as a filter.
* Weblogs provide a space for articulating and capturing ideas that might be undocumented or hidden in private collections otherwise, parking them in a trusted external repository shared with others.
* Blogging is used for sense-making supported by writing, multiple ways to organise and assess one’s own blog posts and conversations with other bloggers.
* When developing ideas the person-centric and open-ended nature of blogging brings unexpected insights that cross topical boundaries.
* Over time ideas captured and organised in weblogs provide a fertile ground for reflection and reuse.


In respect to conversations blogging practices are described as:

* Weblog conversations are informed by and embedded into histories of writing in individual weblogs as well as history of interactions and relations between participating bloggers. Those contexts are not necessarily explicit and visible to everyone who participates.
* Since weblog conversations involve communicating via comments to a specific weblog and via linking across weblogs they are fragmented and distributed over multiple weblogs. In addition, those conversations may be supplemented by interacting via other media. The distributed and fragmented nature of weblog conversations results in exposure to different audiences, crossing multiple topics, combining individual input and the power of dialogue.
* In comparison to other tools, participation in weblog conversations requires extra effort that includes manually connecting conversational fragments by linking, and well as creating and maintaining an overview of those fragments. This effort limits the scale or frequencies of such conversations and also makes them more likely to happen within densely-knit networks of bloggers.
* Weblogs provide a possibility for an occasional interaction rather than support constant conversations. They are not particularly suitable for goal-oriented conversations, but provide a fertile ground for exploring ideas, especially those that cross topical boundaries or where the interests of others are not known in advance.
* Participation in weblog conversations contributes to developing ideas and relations that often cross boundaries and exclude intermediaries.


In respect to relations the blogging practices are described as:

* Personal nature of blogging plays an important role in establishing professional connections. Weblogs are often treated as online representations of their authors, living business cards.
* Weblogs are used for establishing and maintaining both, personal relations with other bloggers and informational relations that involve treating other bloggers as trusted information source without engaging in person.
* In both cases it is “connecting through content“, where the person-centric nature of blogging plays an important role in establishing trust (either in blogger as a person or as an information source) and connecting across boundaries.
* Networking via weblogs is enabled by publishing and interaction. Publishing allows efficient broadcasting on a variety of topics to often unknown audiences and is essential for being present as a blogger, getting to know others and making informed choices about engaging with them, and as a low-key way to stay in touch. While bloggers do not actively interact all the time, it is the conversations between them over time that help to establish personal bonds that eventually enable getting things done together.
* While personal relations are often initially established via blogging, over time multiple channels come into play to monitor others and to interact with them.


In respect to working on specific tasks blogging practices are described as:

* The open-ended and public nature of weblogs does not necessarily makes them a good tool to work directly on tasks, so in most cases weblogs are used for enabling work, rather than doing it. Weblogs influence one’s work indirectly when they are used for developing ideas, engaging in conversations and establishing relations that might be needed in the future:
* documented ideas might be reused and reworked, accelerating working on tasks;
relations with others make it possible to engage them when needed;
conversations result in unexpected ideas and relations that can turn into new projects or contribute to the on-going ones.
* Blogging might became more closely integrated with one’s work when it requires working on tasks that match the medium, for example, those that require documenting potentially useful ideas, relationship building or communicating to a broad audience.
* While in some cases blogging might become the required way to perform one’s work or a focus of it, in most cases it is added to a pool of various tools one can use to work on a task. Knowledge workers choose to use blogging as an instrument when it works for them and do it intentionally, ad-hoc or in retrospect.


Blogging practices in respect to context are described as :

* Blogging on professionally interesting topics often results in a degree of integration with work, even when started without such an intention. In business settings blogging is neither purely individual nor business-driven – the choices that shape a particular weblog are multifaceted and weblogs of individual knowledge workers are positioned on various places between the extremes.
* Bloggers have to deal with the effects of visibility that comes as a result of blogging. While visibility might be a driving force for blogging and a reason for many positive effects it brings (e.g. ideas and people being found) it also comes with challenges of dealing with expansion of networks and information overload, changes in power distribution when crossing hierarchical or organisational boundaries, raised expectations and making mistakes in public.
* Given that blogging is shaped by and useful in different contexts that often result in incomparable requirements, bloggers have to make choices and draw the boundaries deciding if they blog for themselves or others, do it for connecting with peers or a business gain, or how personal their work-related weblog should be.
* Blogging is creating microcontent, but the value of it is in the connections and patterns across those fragments over time. It is also efficient in exposing a blogger to a great number of ideas and people across various boundaries. So, learning to deal with fragmentation and abundance is part of blogging practices.
* Choosing, managing and ‘working around’ tools is part of blogging. Next to making choices about the technology set-up for their weblogs when starting, bloggers constantly deal with making choices about media to engage with others. Various tools used for that purpose require the effort of maintaining contacts across them and learning how to maximise their potential and account for limitations.


Highly recommanded reading !!!!!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Communicating Global/Development Research

This morning one of the open space sessions during the EADI-Information Management Workshop in Copenhagen was based on the question: What is so specific about communicating Global research? I had the pleasure to discuss this question with 7 other participants sharing experiences and point of views from various angels.

In the first place we had difficulties in understanding the concept of Global research and replaced it by Development research (assuming this concept would be clearer ;-).

Furthermore we argued that it is necessary to distinguish different types of researches and, for the matter of communication, also researchers:
  • Academic research – researchers who apparently mainly communicate in peer reviews;
  • Programme research – evaluations, monitoring of development programs and projects, by academic researchers but mainly by consultants (evaluations, consultancies)
  • Experience based research – research in which the people actually involved in the development processes are directly involved (‘the people’)
These three types of research need different ways of communication (strategies, methods and tools). Thereby issues of validation (“truth” is not equal to “authenticity”) and access to money and power play an important role, be it in a different way for each of the three defined types of research.

They play a role in the way the ‘to be’ communicated information or message can be ‘translated’ for the intended audience. And again, this discussion group concluded that it is as important to make a distinction in the audience, be it academics, policy makers, program managers, press/media or the involved people themselves. This distinction also defines the strategy, methods and tools to be used to communicate about the research.

This all led to the conclusion that ultimately communicating about research is the same as any other communication: all depends who is involved, on the purpose and on the source.

But, while discussing the following questions arose:

Why does one go into development research if not to contribute to development?, and: Why then do so many (academic) development researchers adopt a mode of work which does not contribute to that aim? (by keeping the information among themselves and/or communicating in such a subtle way that is hard to follow for most audiences?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Euforic, Climate Change and Information Management

On Wednesday June 10 the AGM of Euforic took place in Copenhagen, kindly hosted by NIAS. The morning was dedicated to the business meeting. As so often unfortunately this meeting was not attended by very much members, a pity because it is so important to have members really involved in what is going on in a joint organization such as Euforic (or Dgroups for example). But anyhow all plans were approved and a nice discussion about future plans took place. For the latter there was no time to ‘finish’ it and it was agreed to continue the discussion on line. So all members that were not able to come to Copenhagen can still join this discussion!

The afternoon session was quite interesting. A couple of members presented their activities around the issue of Climate Change. More information about these presentations can be found in Euforic’s blogpost. Unfortunately there was hardly time to discuss the presentations and talk about experiences and activities which were not presented. But anyhow it is amazing to see and hear how much is being done and therefore how many opportunities there are to join efforts and make our work more effective. In that sense Euforic could do a lot in actively ‘linking’ members when they feel possible collaboration between members (or other organizations they come across) could be fruitful.

Today, the Workshop of the EADI Information Management Working Group started. The main topic to be discussed, in a Open Space session is “What are the issues, ideas, possibilities, opportunities etc. around communicating affectively in global research consortia and networks”.
The intention is to make it possible too follow what is happening in this workshop on-line. Therefore we started with some short explanations on how to Twitter, blog and blipping (post videos on Blip.tv). Interested people who could not attend this workshop can find all the new postings looking for the tag #IMWG2009.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

By the Dalits for the Dalits; CARDS theater group performs

The 'CARDS International' theatre group from India performed in the chapel of the ICCO Alliance office in Utrecht today. This youth group is visiting the Netherlands for two weeks from June 3 until June 16. Their objective is to raise awareness on the situation of Dalits in India. Dalits fall outside the Hindu cast system and are considered to be lower than the poorest class.

Today's performance showed a touching mixture of theatre and dance. The drums that represented the hearts of the Dalits and its hypnotizing beat could be heard throughout the ICCO building. The chapels, with its colourful windows provided a suitable setting for this performance. Through their dance they showed how government provided fruits were available. The poor Dalits were however not able to access these fruits, which were bought by landlords and more privileged persons.

The performance showed the changes brought about by the work of CARDS. It showed how the financial situation improved. The Dalits no longer had to beg and they were no longer shouted at.
The water situation also improved, since the water source was solidified. Their status in general had improved and especially that of Dalit women. A woman no longer had to massage a men's leg, nor fetch them a drink when asked in a brutal tone. The Dalit ladies could simply pass men by with an umbrella and a smile on her face.



CARDS is a youth organisation for development of rural communities in Andra Pradesh. CARDS has been working over 25 years for rights of Dalits. The ICCO Alliance has supported a number of their projects since 1968, read more. 60-70% of Dalits are illiterate, that is partially why this theater group is raising awareness on their situation. The performance was made 'by the Dalits for the Dalits'.

For more pictures of the performance, follow this link.

By Stephanie Zwier

Understanding of Dutch Culture/Religion; Sunday 31 May

The team of 7 trainees left the guesthouse at about 9:00 am and travelled to Amersfoort and participated in an Ecumenical Church (Het Brandpunt). Het Brandpunt faith community church is made up of believers of Catholic and Protestant background, who have decided to come together to worship as one church 15 years ago; and so were also celebrating their 15th Anniversary this same Sunday. The Worship was conducted by two female Pastors Josephine van Pampus (Catholic) and Anette Sprotte (Protestant).


During the service a member of the church was confirmed. This appeared a bit special as the lady was called in front to give an explanation of her confirmation before the Pastors led her through “Questions of Faith to Christ”. The Pastor earlier acknowledged the presence of ICCO guests during her sermon. Also in the course of the service, the Pastors also undertook the commissioning and blessings of 11 Volunteers with special functions/tasks in the church. The church service ended a little after an hour and the congregation participated in coffee/tea and snacks session before retiring home. During this time the 7 ICCO guests were introduced to their host families and were taken home till 6 pm and we all met again at the church premises to be conveyed back to our Guesthouse.


On arrival to the Guesthouse a short evaluation/feedback session was held.
Question: What one word impression do you have from this visit?
Excellent, beautiful, hospitable, loving and caring, spontaneous, integration etc..

Question: What made you say this?

How 2 different denominations found a way to come together. How the find common values that unite them whereas others go separate ways. We experienced what holds people as human beings whatever their religion or beliefs… My host family asked me a lot of questions and I also asked them a lot.. . we shared… we exchanged a lot of this about our families… , our lives….

Question: Any questions from you?

Yes, how 2 denominations come together?Answer from a host: May be it’s money? Ideology? Money because it is easier for us to come together to build our own church as each denomination has to find its own money… but we are having problem sticking together for over 15 years… each denomination wants his way… but we are still going on so far…

Question: What other things did you find special?

  • The church service, as a Hindu I have never participated in the a Christian service, I only observe at distance.. as a tourist.. but today I participated fully, I like the prayers and the songs sound sweet… something I can’t forget… I enjoy the prayers..
  • It is special women conducting prayers/service…. this not common in India for women…
  • No young people, youth in the church… only parents and younger children…
  • This seems the case in every religion… all over the world… the youth wants to do things different from their parents…yes, it’s difficult my children only attend on special days… they don’t like to participate in church..
  • Some youth come back later… I myself did not like church when I was young, but after my mother died I like to go back to where she took me to… may be back to the community in church/
  • I like the simplicity of things, especially the church room compared to others.. big catholic buildings… only the cross is in the church ok… not many other symbols.. distractions.. better.

Question: What about the host families?

  • What I like about my host family is they all show interest. They live at different places but they tried to meet on Sunday for church..
  • I like the division of work in the family, the husband help cook and clean- the gender part - not so in my culture… men don’t like to do certain work.. but it’s changing… better than in my mother’s generation.. I will train my son to even do better in his generation…
  • The children (9yrs, 14yrs) in my family were nice but we could not communicate much as they don’t speak much English… so I could not talk much about my children with them… but I see they are interested… I see the children are the same in many ways as from my country.. although the environment are different…
  • I visited a village school, I was very impressed . Village life not the same and very difficult in India… I shared about socio-economic life in India, my host were very surprised as they did not know a lot about India…
  • I see loving relationship between the wife and husband.. although they are now 56 and 60 years respectively.Any other questions?
  • Oh it’s appreciative to be with a Dutch family..
  • My family was wonderful.. they tried to speak Spanish also with me..
  • Being with a family is wonderful thing… one can travel as tourist to any country but it’s difficult to be with a family. Being with a family is the best way to experience the culture..

Question: What can you say is typically Dutch?

Bread and cheese, lot of bikes, dropjes everywhere, even in car.. they like nice and simple things.. they don’t show off.. they are open..

Close at 8.30 pm.
By: Prosper Sapathy