Self-help group members pass their savings to the group leader during a weekly meeting. Photo: Cally Spittle/Tearfund

From: Footsteps 93

Making the most of what we have, sharing it and increasing it

The Baptist church in Myanmar is the largest denomination in the country, made up of 18 conventions with around 4,900 churches. Eden is a Church and Community Mobilisation (CCM) process that started three years ago and has been implemented through six conventions so far. 

To learn from each other, Eden’s community facilitators meet regularly in each other’s communities. The church in the facilitator’s community will host the group of facilitators by offering food and accommodation. In this way the facilitators demonstrate the principles of CCM by mobilising their own resources to meet a common need. Not only are the costs kept low and shared by the group, but the presence of the facilitators in the community raises awareness of Eden, and some community members even attend the meetings. 

Training through sharing

Naw Anthea, Eden Coordinator, first thought about inviting the facilitators and giving them more training. But she then realised that the best learning and action came from the group sharing their experiences with one another, asking questions and encouraging one another. She saw that this was more powerful and effective in producing better results than receiving training from head office.

To encourage this style of learning, when training facilitators always include a sharing and learning section and, where possible, exchange visits. As well as being used for learning and sharing, exchange visits can be used for observation and feedback on facilitation style. When facilitators watch one another working they can learn new ideas and advise each other on what can be improved.

Relationships

Relationships are crucial to the success of CCM. The relationships between the church and the community must be good, because it is by working together that the church and community can make a real difference. But what if these relationships are difficult? Strong and supportive relationships between facilitators provide the motivation and encouragement to continue. Sometimes communities may not want to be involved and are suspicious of the church’s motivation. This situation can be hard and much prayer and perseverance will be required to build good relationships with the community. Community facilitators may get discouraged and want to give up, but by meeting together regularly they are able to keep going. 

Compiled by Helen Gaw and Jané Mackenzie with thanks to Naw Anthea and Matthew Frost.

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