“It’s not a training, it’s a transformation.”
Mary, one of our partners, spoke these words when we asked her how the Celebrating Children Workshop (CCW) has changed her work with vulnerable children. In the past four years since she first took the CCW, Mary has not only continued her work with 85 children at risk, but she has also been raising three children of her own.
“The biggest thing I learned,” she says, “is that I need to work on my own [reflexes], that it impacts the way I respond to children.” Learning to recognize when she is responding out of anger, and what triggers it, has revolutionized her work.
Mary is one of seventy leaders who attended Loom’s Celebrating Children Workshop in 2016 and 2017 in Tanzania. Since then, we have heard many stories of the way this training transformed the way they led, taught, and parented. We hoped to see some of these leaders go on to teach the CCW in their own context and cultures – which they did, using the material for teacher training, church seminars, youth events, and so much more. But many also gave us feedback that although the teaching had transformed their work, they felt they needed more preparation to teach others. We decided it was time for the next phase: a targeted CCW Facilitator’s training for 25 leaders who wanted to multiply it across East Africa.
Each day during the one-week training, a Loom trainer would review one of the key concepts of the CCW, then give participants time to teach the material to each other. We discussed teaching styles, learning styles, and the use of appropriate and contextualized materials. Our goal was to “demystify” the CCW and make it accessible to anyone – whether they teach it under a tree, to fellow Sunday School teachers, or to an entire class. “Could you teach this to your grandmother?” was a humorous way to ask this and soon became a theme of the entire training.
We also discussed the key values of a CCW – the things we hope it will never lose, no matter what the context, such as:
- We value the contributions of each presenter and community.
- We value the goodness of God. Everything starts from the assumption that He created each child with dignity and purpose, and has a good plan for their life.
- We value the transformation of learning truth. We recognize that if we protect the most vulnerable, we all benefit.
By the end of the week, participants were comfortable teaching the entire class – and they were doing a great job.
“From the very beginning, the vision has always been that it would be multipliable,” said Heather Wood, who has been on the CCW team since it began in 2009. “We’ve never let go of this dream. And now we are seeing it come true. They will take it and make it better.”
“I’m so excited, I feel that this is possible,” one social innovator told me. “Before I did not go ahead because of fear, but now I see that …I can make this my own. I am teaching a women’s seminar at my church and now I know I can teach them this, about protecting children.”
“I am only just arriving here in my life because fear has held me back,” another echoed. “Now – it is exciting to think about.”
Bosco is a social innovator from Arua, Uganda who attended the CCW four years ago.
“I remember sitting in the CCW and looking at…the Circles of Protection, how communities could [protect the vulnerable by providing] jobs and wanting to offer a way for people in my community to have work, to provide for their families,” he said.
“You have given me my life message. One that we will spend the rest of our life sharing, living out, and will explain why we chose to start a school and why we do what we do the way we do it.”
Geoff, another social innovator who has found his life and work transformed by the CCW, agreed.
“Knowledge is power,” he said. “Since the CCW, it has been mind opening.” In the past four years, he has shifted his work with vulnerable children to keep them in families, providing educational sponsorship and setting up their families in small businesses. He’s run training courses in churches, hosted fathers’ support groups to encourage godly parenting, and hosts youth seminars to teach disadvantaged youth about the love of a God who wants them to grow into flourishing, healthy adults who carry that love to others.
“If we can gain knowledge, and apply it,” Geoff says, “so much transformation can happen.”
On the final day of the CCW Training, participants split into groups and committed to specific dates for upcoming seminars and training. Loom, in turn, committed to walking alongside these leaders as they multiply the training for the first time. From now on, all CCW training in East Africa will be led by teams of East Africans. As we learn from their input and contextualization, we truly believe that they will make the CCW better than it has ever been before.