Have you ever been captivated by a good story? If you take time to think about this you will agree that more often than we realize, stories can change the way we think, feel or act. A well-presented story will be remembered long after it is told and will help in breaking down various barriers that differentiate people in society.
Narativ in collaboration with the Open Society Foundation held a workshop to promote the use of this ancient art in advocacy initiatives. The participants were activists and advocates working on HIV programs within East Africa. The workshop was aimed at encouraging self-advocacy to strengthen implementation of HIV programs. The participants learnt various skills on how to effectively use their stories as a valuable communication tool within their work.
“Remember that when you tell a story, you’re creating an experience for your listeners. Don’t just tell your listeners, but use your words to show them the picture you’re painting in order to maintain their attention,” encouraged Nancy Ondeng from KELIN who was one of the facilitator’s during this training. Nancy who had previously been trained on this methodology, has applied story telling in her work of facilitating access to justice for disinherited widows in Nyanza region of Kenya.
The common question “What is your story” often draws out thoughts of grand life changing experiences. One of the most fascinating reflections during this training was the Narativ technique that encouraged use of simple elements of various experiences to generate stories. The use of emotions such as fear and hurt or even memories of events surrounding photographs or personal items of sentimental value were all used to creatively bring out captivating narratives never before told by the participants.
By applying skills such as the use of descriptive language, dialogue and gestures the participants were able to improve the delivery of their stories. In telling their own stories and learning to listen to each other’s stories, the sessions created a powerful connection between the participants.
At the end of the workshop, the participants discussed various strategies of applying the skills and storytelling techniques in advocacy work and community initiatives they were all undertaking.
“I realized that your willingness to reveal personal incidences enables you to become more approachable and therefore allow those you are campaigning for to trust you with their own experiences. In this way stories can inspire action for change in the various causes we are championing,” expressed Melba Katindi KELIN’s Advocacy and Training Officer on her experience at this workshop.
As Narativ founder Murray Nossel a South African Clinical psychologist would quote on the uniqueness of this workshop,” it isn’t the stories that won me over but how well the participants listened to one another, getting people to really listen to one another is a gift from the gods, then they’ll work together much more effectively”. This the experience KELIN finds essential, empowering, and utterly transformational.
KELIN invites you to tell your story!