Implementation of recommendations/strategies from 2018 Learning Exchange in Sierra Leone


(Fatmata Fouard-Kanu) #1


I hope those who participated in the learning exchange in Sierra Leone last month are back at work and doing great things. I’d like to share very quickly how we started implementing a small but important suggestion from one of you and the results we are getting. During the exchange workshops, we shared how several villages that we work with brought three class action cases against the biggest iron ore miner in the country for pollution of their land and water sources, among others. We discussed the importance of being in really close communication with our clients during this sensitive period and one of you suggested a daily check in with them. Before now, we touched base with them when there are updates to share. They also call us if there are developments in the communities.

Based on the suggestion, we began calling each of the communities daily to find out how they are holding up. Even if there is no specific development to share we still call them for a few minutes. We always end with an assurance that we are in the fight with them to the very end.

As a result of this, a number of things have happened. First, our relationship with the communities is getting deeper as we talk about issues that do not relate directly with the cases but which are important to them- a death in the community, a celebration, etc. The community members themselves are picking up on this and look forward to calls. Second, we get information about any development almost in real time. Recently, we heard from our clients, on the same day, that the ore miner went to invite them to a meeting where payment of surface rent was to be made. Our clients wrote to the company and the paramount chief stating that they would not attend the meeting and wouldn’t collect any money. They directed the company to talk to us. The stance by the community members is unbelievable, as surface rent is one tool that companies use to manipulate communities and weaken their resolve. Our clients are standing firm.

The communities do not just wait to hear from us daily. They use their resources to make conference calls and provide update on matters arising daily and seek for advice or direction.

Thanks to the participants of the learning exchange for the emphasis laid on the increased communication with our clients. We are experiencing the benefits of the daily exchanges with our clients.

(Michael Otto) #2

This is amazing, @FatmataKanu - thank you for sharing! In such a large case that is now going to court, communication is vitally important and it is heartening to know that small tweaks can provide such immediate results.


(Mahabaleshwar Hegde) #3

@FatmataKanu, we already miss you, back in India, after coming back we are also trying to implement many of the things we learn about the community mobilization and meeting, especially engaging with women members of the community. Thanks for hosting us,

(Bassey Bassey) #4

Dear @FatmataKanu, I am indeed happy to hear what is already happening within the short period. Although I didn’t get to meet you, Fiona shared how much of a wonderful person you are.

I believe empathy is a tool and it goes a long way to appealing to emotions and gaining trust. Keep up the good work.

At GREENCODE, we are also doing much with the knowledge gained at the exchange program in the area of volunteering capacity building/training.

(Fatmata Fouard-Kanu) #5

@mrhegde, I am missing you guyz too. Grate to hear that you are already putting into practice the skills/knowledge in your engagement with women. I am happy and hope to see you in action one day. Let’s keep up the good work. Together, we can make a just world!

New member introductions (22 February to 7 March, 2018)
(Laura Goodwin) #6

Thanks for sharing @FatmataKanu! It’s amazing to hear about the impact you’re already seeing from increasing the frequency of communication with community members.

In the Kenya Citizenship program, sometimes ID card or passport cases are pending for many months or even more than a year - the paralegal team aims to touch base with every client about every two weeks, though they sometimes find it challenging to do so when there are no updates on either side about the case. While your cases and ours are very different, your experience really shows the value of frequent communication with clients - and I thought @Zahra @zena @yasahkym @makkahyusuf @Nyevu @AndrewOchola @AMOSMWACHI @Amani @Samba @kasida_abdul might find reading this interesting too!

(Andrew Ochola) #7

Indeed @lauragoodwin. This is real empowerment!.It is amazing how keeping constant communication can get things working both for us and for the communities we serve. I like that it was not a one-sided affair because the communities were also calling to provide info, not just on project related matters, but also on other issues that are important to them. This cultivates a sense of togetherness and a deeper understanding. Good work @FatmataKanu and thanks for sharing. These are useful lessons for our Paralegal teams in Kenya.

(Khasida Abdullahi) #8

@FatmataKanu and @lauragoodwin Thank you for sharing this. Keeping communication is very important in all aspects .

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