I recently had the opportunity of co-facilitating a learning process with 50 Child and Youth Care Workers. Child and Youth Care Workers (CYCW) are professionals who work daily with vulnerable children and youth and are primarily focused on the growth and development of these young people. We provide supportive relationships and processes to CYCWs and advocate for them because we believe that their work forms an important part of the positive long-term outcomes for young people in care.
The process I recently co-facilitated was titled: Nation building in the “hear” and now – taking care of our relationship with ourselves, our colleagues and the children and youth we work with. We explored three questions: 1. How are you? (self) 2. How are we? (as practitioners) 3. How are they? (the children and youth). Our aim was to promote deep listening, reflection and the consistent use of these three questions in teams and organisational meetings. People had the opportunity to pair up to answer the first question and then work in groups to answer the last two. I enjoyed seeing these questions press the pause button on their overwhelming workload and helping them take stock of how they were doing. They then recorded their reflections on flipchart papers, which were stuck onto an open wall. It seemed like a relief for them to acknowledge some of the feelings and emotions that were impacting on their growth as professionals; it made them reflect on the challenges facing their livelihood and wellbeing. As we stood around the flipchart papers of various groups and reading each other’s answers, something opened up. It was as if the sight of everyone’s reflections on the wall made it safe to speak. It was as if the flipcharts spoke and expressed an understanding of their experiences. “I hear you”, it said! One child and youth care worker said, “We are growing, we need to continue doing this, things will change!” At that moment I realised the importance of Mamelani’s work in providing spaces where people can be listened to, where they can see the change that brings hope, and with it, an understanding of what we need to do more and less of. Nation building. Hear. Now.