Tuesday, February 14, 2006



Dear reader,

We have moved all our blogging activities to our "News Blog" at:

Please follow us on our journey towards AIDS Competence

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Unconferencing: From Keynote Speakers to Key Listeners

I am sure everybody has been to a conference where he has been unsatisfied with the outcome. But the most unsatisfying part to me is usually that only few people can contribute and the majority is condemned to wait for the question/answer sessions to get a chance to speak. This is particularly true for big conferences of international organizations where dialogue during the core sessions is a rarety.

But last November in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership of WHO has taken the chance to change this by designing its Forum V meeting as a participatory event. The goal was to give every participant a voice to share his experience and to jointly come up with action points. This lead to lively discussions, increased participation and a sense of ownership of everybody involved. I can proudly say that the Constellation successfully facilitated this event.

Hopefully such participatory conferences will become the norm rather than the exception. Regarding this topic there is an interesting recording (podcast) of a discussion accessible online that debates so-called "unconferencing". It's all about how we can get away from unsatisfying conferences where the audience is often bored, towards much more engaging learning events?

>> you can find the podcast (recording) on this blog

>> or download it directly here

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Development: a spent word?

Reader, I have a simple proposal for you. Join me in never using the labels of developed and developing countries. Instead, call a rich country “rich”, a poor country “poor”, and a middle income country the same. Here is why.
First, there is no firm link between economic growth and “development”. During the nineties, Botswana’s economy was growing at one of the fastest paces in the world. So was its HIV epidemic.
Second, there is ample evidence that rich countries are not necessarily more civilized than poor countries.
Third, our potential to learn from each other is reduced when some countries consider themselves as “developed”: the term fuels complacency for the rich and is condescending towards poor and middle income countries.
Jean-Louis Lamboray

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


What is an AIDS-competent community like? What does an AIDS-competent community do?

When we introduced the Constellation to local organizations in Chiangmai in July, I introduced the concept of AIDS Competence by explaining how we defined the term/concept, and it was ok. But when we had to introduce the concept of AIDS Competence again in to local NGOs at HDN office on 21 September, I decided to try a different, more participatory approach. So, instead of telling, this time I asked the participants “In your opinion, what is an AIDS-competent community like? What does an AIDS-competent community do?” The lively brainstorming yielded the following responses (emerging entirely from the participants with no other prompting from me apart from an occasional “Anything else?”)

An AIDS-competent community:

The brainstorming led smoothly to discussion about how we as AIDS activists and facilitators should work with communities to promote their AIDS competence and how we could find out how well we were doing. That, in turns, led smoothly to discussing the concept of self-assessment, the tool, and an actual practice of self-assessment in pairs of participants from the same organization, which was the agenda of the day. Participants remained very enthusiastic throughout the day-long meeting and ended with a firm commitment to take the tool back to their organization and send us the results of their organization’s self-assessment by end of October so that we could discuss the results and do our sharing/learning on 8 November.

So what have I learned from the experience?

I’ve learned that there’s another way to introducing the concept of AIDS competence, and that this participatory approach of getting participants to discuss and define it themselves is actually a better way because it promotes a strong sense of ownership that leads to enthusiasm to learn and to act. After that brainstorming session, one participant, Ajarn Apassaree Chaikuna from the Home and Community Care Project, made a one-line remark that was repeated by others several times during the day: “We have to start with ourselves”.

I think that was a positive start to taking the journey towards AIDS competence for the group, and it should be a good learning experience to accompany them on the journey.

Usa Duongsaa

Chiangmai, 28 September 2005

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