Community encounters

The driver sounded his horn as we came up to the bend, then again on the corner, and once more as we rounded the corner. It was a road that twisted and turned its way through banana plantations. We had been diverted onto this road after a security incident on our original route meant we couldn’t continue on our way. We passed a boy bouncing bareback on a horse and dodged motorcyclists and passers by who were forced to climb up the banks at the side of the road to as we squeezed out way along the narrow path.

We then turned out on to a dry riverbed where we rattled over stones and rocky patches, until we came to a sudden impasse. We were forced to drive up the riverbank and along a footpath which came to an abrupt stop with a steep drop. Our driver was undeterred and took us down the steep slope in reverse, eventually righting the vehicle and continuing on up the river.

Despite our detour we were only half an hour late for the community meeting and the community gathered round, the group growing larger and larger as our presence attracted interest from passers-by. The staff led the session excellently, allowing the community members to identify the problems and the issues in their area whilst also discovering the existing resources and skills they had to offer that could help deal with the problem. At the end of a week of disaster preparedness training it was really encouraging to see lessons learnt being applied out in the field. The group of women we had been talking too burst into song as we finished, singing of their own empowerment and with a dynamism with which their group could bring about change.

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