Sense making with community and an artist in Nepal

Female sex workers ready to train colleagues with their 'visual training aid' (Feb 7, 2014)

Female sex workers ready to train their colleagues with jointly created ‘visual training aid’ (Feb 7, 2014)

This blog post follows up from an earlier post I wrote about applying graphic facilitation in new contexts. The day arrived last Friday for the first official training of female sex workers (in Nepal) in improving their mental health.  Women were given a training and then debriefed.  During the debrief, the facilitator asked the women, what are the main messages you learned from the training?

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Mental health training workshop with female sex workers in Nepal.

The women provided feedback on what they learned, what they felt was most important and the key messages to provide to their colleagues in the trainings they will provide on their own over the next two weeks. They were enthusiastic and had lots to say.

During that time, I drew out the main messages on a wall that was in plain view.   I started with a woman hugging herself as the key point was the importance to love yourself and be kind to yourself in order to be able to give to others such as family and the community.  It also helps for creativity and generating new ideas.  The idea of taking time for oneself was talked about, physical pain being related to mental illness, as well as the struggle of implementing what was learned in the real world, when one walks out the door. They gave the drawing a title, “My Life”.

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Adi, an Israeli artist, drawing on the tablet.

When finished, we went over the drawing as a group sharing what we saw and how it reflected back what they said.  At the same time, an artist was drawing the key points on her wacom tablet to create a refined, digital version that could be printed immediately for women to take away with them.  The entire process of reflection, drawing and refinement was about 30 minutes (i.e. quick!).

Here is the rough live version (done by me) as well as the artists’ rendition (with Nepali translation) and some additional images to remind them to share what they learned with their colleagues.

The live image I created on a visible wall.

The live image I created on a visible wall.

The artists rendition drawn on a tablet.

The artists rendition drawn on a tablet.

The final digital drawing was taken to a print shop nearby while the women were given a free lunch.  The free food was key to getting the women to stick around after the training.

The copies were brought back and distributed so they had something to help them remember the content when training their colleagues and friends.  The women were very thankful and interested in the whole visualization process. Despite the language barrier, I gather they appreciated being heard and having input into the product they took home.  This is certainly one of the main messages I promote for why graphic facilitation is a great tool with meaning making and groups.

We are planning to use the same technique next week in the second training of the three part series.

Overall, working with an artist is really amazing and I will try it again in the future in other contexts.    

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The women were very appreciative and thanked us with flowers and tika.

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