In Kolhapur, Maharashtra, from the 20th to the 22nd of May 2023, a Knowledge Fair was held bringing together representatives of the villages of Pirwadi, Vashi, Nandwal, Kandgaon, and Kerli, where the Avani organisation led SALT conversations for the past two years, Indian organisations who also facilitate SALT-CLCP (Rural Aid and Purnata from West Bengal, Faith Foundation from Meghalaya) and the GFC. Avani organised the event with the GFC’s support.
How to “co-create, distribute facilitation & connect”
“The second day we had 108 participants including 55 local community members—men, women, health workers, children, and adolescents from 4 villages—they brought a lot of depth. The presence of about 20 SALT facilitators in the room enabled these deep conversations,” writes Rituu B. Nanda who distributed facilitation roles for the festival among the participating facilitators. In her blog post on the Community Life Competence platform, Rituu shares the making of the knowledge fair.
“Each partner got the opportunity to facilitate a session. This made us feel like it was our program and that we had as much responsibility as the organisation that hosted it. We felt a sense of belonging, and we took ownership of the sessions that we had to facilitate.” — Evakordor Syngkli, Faith Foundation, shares her learnings in the Global Fund for Children website.
“Knowledge Fair is the fair where different peoples without experts join together under one umbrella (objective) to learn and share their experiences and challenges. They don’t only share their experience but also learn from each other,” writes Dheeraj Lepcha (see his blog post) who also shares the Rural Aid participants’ gratitude to the ‘Smile team’ (Avani) for its “exceptional teamwork, coordination and warm hospitality” that allowed a space conducive to friendship and learning.
Photo show of the Knowledge Fair, by Imran and a young volunteer.
RuralAid participants at the Knowledge Fair.
A unanimous feeling of connection
“Even though I was far from home, I felt like I was home.” — A facilitator, Evakordor Syngkli, Faith Foundation.
“Knowledge Fair got us a new family.” — A community member, feedback shared by Shahrukh Atpade, Avani NGO.
Everyone has something to learn, everyone has something to share
“After we heard all their stories, we felt that we too can do all these things in our Vashi village by ourselves and with the help of other people in the village. We heard how they had engaged youth and adolescents. We, so far, had been engaging school children, mainly girls. Now we will engage adolescents and youth.” — Community members, feedback shared by Shahrukh Atpade, Avani NGO, in his blog post.
“The Knowledge Fair created a space for shared learnings from individuals, organisations, and the community. What was amazing for me was when, during our community visit, men shared their dreams for their own village. They are actively involved in creating a dream of gender equality, gender equity, and access to good healthcare. The courage and passion of the participants were impressive to see.
It was also inspiring to see how children are taking an active part in raising awareness about the social issues in their villages, including through a play. Toward the end of the play, the children asked the adults if they would support them in bringing about change, and that was so powerful.” — Arnicia Kharnior, Faith Foundation, in the Global Fund for Children website.
An uplifting experience
“This experience gave me more strength, ideas, and confidence, and a renewed desire to work for our children, our people, our community, and ourselves.” — The facilitator
Ribansing Nongbsap, Faith Foundation, in the Global Fund for Children website.
“It was great to see everyone share their dreams for their village. We also loved the fact that everyone listened intently today as we shared our dream of Vashi village. We especially liked the lively discussion we had with Corey Madam from GFC, America… It was very engaging and uplifting.” — A community member, feedback shared by Shahrukh Atpade, Avani NGO, in his blog post.
“Amidst hospitality and exploration, the event nurtured growth and gratitude.” — The facilitator Souvik Sarkar, Purnata NGO, in his blog post.
Communities and facilitators are changing their strategy
“Knowledge Fair has seen many changes in everyone. When they saw in the Knowledge Fair that communities were coming together to address their issues. This gave them courage that they could do it,” writes Jayashri Kamble, Avani NGO, about villagers of Nandwal and their common dream, built in May 2023, of a more wooded village. They planted 151 trees with an action plan to nurture them. “Next step: children and adolescents are excited that they will plant trees in the village school.” See her blog post.
“We are adapting according to the community’s time and availability.” Avani’s Gender Equality Programme team changed their office time to be available evenings to meet with all family members and moved their office near the four villages they work with. A place where they also do organic farming… See Shahrukh Atpade’s blog post.
Find out more about The Constellation’s Knowledge Fairs:
by Rituu B. Nanda.