THE HISTORY OF MT.ELGON SELF-HELP COMMUNITY PROJECT
In 2005, a workshop took place at Masiye camp in Zimbabwe were Micheal white, Cherly White, David Denborough and Shona Russel from Dulwich center were invited by REPSSI to offer a one week training and also to co-develop ways of working with vulnerable children in Africa. I attended this training and during the workshop, Michael white asked volunteers to be interviewed and I stepped forward. Michael interviewed me about my values and hopes for my work and he traced the histories of these through my life. This turned out to be a very significant experience and a turning point for me.
This interview with micheal helped me to make changes to my life. Significatly, I started restoring my relationshp with people from my past, even those who I had once percived to have contributed to my failour.
Micheal white in his book, Maps of narrative practice, said;
"Many people who seek therapy believe that the problems of their lives are a reflection of their own identify, or the identity of others, or a reflection of the identity of their relationship. This sort of understanding shapes their efforts to resolve problems, and unfortunately these efforts invariably have the effect of exacerbating the problem. In turn, this leads to people even solidly believe that the problems of their lives are a reflection of certain truth about their nature and character, about the nature and character of others or about the nature and character of their relationship."
After the interview with Micheal, I no longer saw the problems of my life as due to the failings of myself or my family. And the conversation made it possible for me to gather pieces of my story together. I came to see how my hopes, dreams, beliefs, values, skills and knowledge were linked to my history. This made it possible for me to reconcile with the past and the people from my past.
I had been living and working in the city, far from my family. But after the interview, I decided to return to my home village in Mt. Elgon, and to help my people who were experiencing hardships. I decided to use narrative ideas in a self-help community project.
Mt. Elgon Self-Help Community Project was initiated. We began with a group of 5 people in one village and now working with over 1,000 families in seven districts in Eastern Uganda.
The work of Mt Elgon Self-Help Community Project has been mainly influenced by the following key Narrative concepts;
1. We believe that people always respond to hardships regardless of the age, sex, race, geographical location, education and cultural backgrounds.
2. These responses have a foundation that may be rooted in their relationship with others, history, their beliefs and culture.
3. We place significance in tracing the roots of what people give value
4. We also acknowledge that our lives are multi-storied
5. And we deliberately pay special attention in helping individuals to develop rich alternative stories based of what they give value too.Our approaches and activities are deeply rooted in the above values.
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