Jasmine's Place Issue No. 12 - July/August 2014 - Page 40

understanding of human rights and responsibilities, as well as good information - not forcing change but giving people the time to learn, discuss and own the decision with their families, communities and then their larger social network. The Tostan model is community-led, and its success comes through partnership with leaders in villages and communities. It is a very commendable model. How did you begin to build the trust that led to such effective partnerships? I think we build trust by asking the participants in our classes in the first sessions to identify their goals for their family and community and letting them know that Tostan is there to help them achieve these goals. We stay in a community for at least three years so this is not about leading a short seminar where we present an issue that is important to us and then get up and leave. We know that deep social change takes time and has to begin by listening carefully to people, understanding where they are at that particular moment, and then encouraging them to think about and discuss the new information that is presented in class in relation to the goals they have identified as being their priorities. Peace and security Work Group discussing shared problems and possible solutions in Tendinto Guinea Bissau. Photograph by Ashlee Sang © Tostan. As the classes move forward, people begin to see positive changes in their lives as they try out new ways of doing things. Slowly, over a period of time, people begin to trust that the new information is credible and actually helps them to also reinforce their values – because information we present in the program leads to better health, wellbeing, and respect of all members of the community. Continued from page 11 JASMINE'S PLACE 40