On 2011

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I read these lines in a book sometime back and then I heard similar words from a girl I was interacting with and ‘trying to help’… When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked.

I read these lines in a book sometime back and then I heard similar words from a girl I was interacting with and ‘trying to help’…

When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

And I realized how much at Sanjog we value listening…and how listening and exploring was at the core of all our programmes this year…to adolescent and young women survivors of trafficking who are at cross roads of returning home after they have been rescued, to women in prostitution who are also mothers of young adolescent boys and feel helpless at times about not being a part of their sons’ worlds, to young adolescent boys who have crossed legal borders and boundaries in search of work, play or relationships…we focused on listening to them and left designing of programmes and interventions to our learnings from there. And enriched we were!

Five things I learnt from active and engaged listening that I would like to share with all at Sanjog and outside:

From the girls who are in waiting to go home after being rescued from exploitation in prostitution…we heard and understood their appeals saying, “…walk with me, talk with me NOT for me, let me tell you what will make me feel ‘healed’ and empowered…let that not be decided only by what the organization can do or thinks is right to do..”. Whether it was during the long weeks we shared with the girls while making of the film “The Return” or whether it was during the workshop moments for the “caring Connections” programmes, the girls shared and bared and we listened..and eventually learned so much about what we need to do.”

From the mothers…who are also women in prostitution, we realized and resonated with their challenges in parenting adolescent boys and young men in their communities. We listened to their helplessness in their present relationships with men but were inspired by their sense of power and pride in being women, in being able to hold, receive and give…it was powerful indeed.

From the boys…who in the eyes of the law had crossed international boundaries and committed a crime for wanting to meet their relatives on the other side, to attend Durga Puja ‘melas’ with their friends across the borders and to earn a little more for their families who don’t get to eat three square meals a day. Listening to some of their stories of confusion and sadness, it sometimes struck us whether what is legal is also fair and even after 6 months post the research, the voices of these boys in government run remand homes rind loud “…is such timeless/ sustained incarceration or punishment justified for the nature of the ‘crime’ that I seemed to have committed…?”

From the grass root organizations…who work in partnerships and collaborations with the bigger brothers(and sisters) , we heard about their experiences of ‘feeling small’ in these partnerships. We realized that how coordination and teamwork depends on feeling respected, valued and ‘equal’ and not only on good or efficient reporting formats and regular communication documents.

From the voices within me…this year I learnt how intuition and feelings are as important as systems and policies and they are not contradictory to each other in effective leadership or organization management. I realized that kindness is not contrast to accountability and how adhering to structures/ systems are not opposite to being ‘people-oriented’… a myth that I had carried for so long and sometimes even taken refuge under. It stands broken and I am going to practice this new learning definitely in the coming year.

As we share with you our experiences and experiments this year, we look forward to talking and listening to you, partnering with you and walking with you….

From the team at Sanjog, the mantra for the coming year too shall remain…LISTEN, LEARN, ACT, LEARN, SHARE and REPEAT if it’s successful.

We remain, in solidarity.

By | Monday, June 1st, 2015 | Tags: |

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