"The means is dialogue, the end is learning, the purpose is peace." ~ Founder Dr. Jane Vella
TransACTION solicited the creative support of Global Learning Partners, Inc. (GLP) to design HIV prevention materials for mobile individuals including waitresses and daily laborers (male and female), and to design training for local NGOs around the country. Research had shown that people who move jobs along main corridors across Ethiopia had persistent misconceptions about their own risk of HIV, and were still engaged in very high risk activities, influenced largely by their peers. Of course, more significantly, they lacked a sense of security and belonging, all of which played into their personal risk. TransACTION asked GLP to work with them to create materials which would effectively promote personal reflection, honest dialogue, and new perspectives on taboo topics. We began the work in earnest by researching all we could about comparable efforts to reach mobile populations in small group dialogue. Then, we launched into our own creative process.
Working very closely with TransACTION field staff, the GLP team collected stories of real women and men faced with the daily challenges of mobile labor. We read the stories for themes – recognizing that, while we often talk about people as a group, there are many differences among them. We used what we heard to write credible prototype stories weaving together elements from people’s real lives. These stories provided the structure we needed for sets of interactive “story cards” to be used by small groups of peers at the workplace. Using GLP’s Eight Steps of Design™ model, we grounded the materials in the people and their current situation. We carefully considered contextual issues – such as employer support and peer networks – that would influence the effectiveness of the materials.
The story cards followed a few different patterns. For example, the waitress cards were built around one woman’s story with each set of cards beginning with a different “chapter” of her story to draw people forward. Subsequent cards provide brief, concrete, relevant information to the women about HIV, or about safety and self-care in general. Alternate cards posed open questions to the group to assess their learning and to invite deeper reflection.
The TransACTION team wisely used the materials in many different settings, with a range of groups, before making edits. We worked with them to design peer leader guides to build peers’ confidence in the content, as well as their skills in storytelling and facilitation. Some trainings were used as a testing ground to get peers valuable input into the storyline, content, Amharic phrasing, voice, and visuals. We also designed an innovative session in which the peers themselves built characters, crafted storylines, and dramatized the dynamics among workers in risky situations. Once finalized, the materials were introduced to work sites around the country, potentially changing, and saving lives of the many women and men who earn their living in these high risk corridors.