The Chicken or the Egg?
The Chicken or the Egg?

She took my hand in her thin, wrinkled one, pointing to my silver rings. Before we began our discussion with this small group of women, she made it clear that she expected a roof, a toilet, and possibly some cash. Unfortunately, this is not what we came bearing!

We brought these flood -affected villages something less tangible – help to regain peace of mind, and skills to work effectively toward common community goals. Together with Partner Mobilisation Centre (PMC), we hoped to reach out to six different villages in Sunsari in five days.  We introduced simple exercises to help villagers deal with their unresolved trauma from the flooding that displaced them two years ago. And we introduced a participatory meeting process to help them make decisions that will benefit the whole community.

We asked difficult questions, like: “Why aren’t you cooperating to use the stretcher UMN provided to get sick people to the hospital?” Besides the material difficulties, we explored the anxiety, discord and mistrust that were making it hard for these villagers to secure their basic needs.

Some remained set on their goal of immediate aid, but others said: “You are the first to teach us these things.” Some of the women attended a second time with the next day’s group. These women rarely get a chance to meet together, let alone make decisions about community issues. But they caught the vision – excitedly discussing how to support each others’ families during sickness and food shortages. We hope to continue this work in the coming year, and are looking for ways to integrate it with livelihood creation.

That way, there could be chickens and eggs, and perhaps roofs and toilets as well!

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