“They will take this and make it better.”
From the launch of Loom’s Celebrating Children Workshop (CCW) ten years ago, our goal has always been to get the training into the hands of those who need it most. We knew this would mean that we couldn’t just be satisfied with doing a few trainings on our own each year – limiting who got the material by ability to travel, language proficiency, or awareness of Loom. To get this training to the grassroots level would mean that it must be multiplied by local leaders who could contextualize the material for their own communities. They would take it and make it better than we ever could.
Ten years later, we have been overjoyed to see this happening – to see social innovators whose lives and work were transformed by the material, and then began sharing it with others. One of these leaders was Karen Del Rio, who attended a CCW in Switzerland in 2016. Karen was living in Johannesburg, South Africa and working at an aftercare program for 65 children. After receiving her training, she went on to run her own contextualized CCW course, and one of those who attended was Anastasia (Ana) Vereean. Ana then went on to run her own CCW courses as well, and trained Timia, who is now looking at creative solutions for video-based CCW teaching. The fourth generation of CCW multiplication has begun!
This March, as we trained twenty-five CCW Facilitators from across East Africa, we wanted these social innovators to see how many ways the CCW can be “re-imagined” and contextualized to fit the community’s needs, as well as their own. Although Karen couldn’t attend the training, we asked her to write a letter to the participants, explaining how she chose to find creative solutions to her limitations. She wrote,
“I wanted to run my own Celebrating Children’s Workshop after I completed it in 2016. The information changed my life- it changed the way I served kids, saw kids, and interacted with them. I wanted everyone on my team back home to have that same knowledge.
Through training caregivers, [I knew] I would be able to transform children’s lives in a much greater capacity. [But] as I imagined how it would look to run the CCW in my community I had a hard time imagining how to do it differently than I had received it!
I decided to do an “internship.” We would do the CCW classes in the morning, and in the afternoons we would continue to run our aftercare. I invited local church workers and other caregivers in the area and we had a total of 9 participants. Once the 9 had registered, then I really felt nervous!! Where would I find the time to prepare all the materials, teach the materials, AND still run the aftercare?
So how did I do it, you ask? I didn’t teach like Janna Moats. I taught like myself, Karen Del Rio. With my own stories, with my own experiences, with my own style and ability. Every night I would read and study and prepare to be able to teach the session for the next day.
My other challenge was time- how would I prepare everything? And so in making the CCW my own, I wasn’t able to spend the time in all of those details. We also didn’t have the money to invest in all materials as well. So we didn’t use notebooks. I asked all the participants to come with their own pen and paper and they took notes. Each week as I looked through the objects I needed to teach with, I would figure out what I had, what I could easily get, and what I would do without.
The Johannesburg CCW was amazing. Everyone learned, everyone grew, and everyone treats children differently now, because they were educated with this great training.
Friends, you CAN do this. It will not look the same. It will not have the same details. But do you know what? It might even be better than what LOOM could bring, because you know your people, you know the local stories, and you LIVE this material out with your life! You model it as you work with kids, and so your words with your actions become a powerful testimony.
Please be encouraged, that what you have, and who you are is enough to train, to equip and to impact caregivers on behalf of children in your region.”
In this letter, Karen truly captured the heartbeat of Loom. We emerged from the belief that social innovators are the local experts – the ones who know their communities best. Our goal is simply to build their capacity for greater effectiveness and accelerate their growth towards sustainability. We exist to equip them to transform their communities, and our greatest joy is seeing the ripples of change continue to extend from these communities around the world.