Our March 2015 pilot training is not over yet! 

Workshops at the Tostan Training Center (TTC) are proving to be useful platforms for interactive knowledge sharing, where participants and facilitators can learn from each other, and then bring their learning back to their respective organizations. 

The TTC values relationships with potential and former participants by taking an interest in who the participants are, where they work and what they do beyond the context of the training. This can help us not only see the impact our trainings are having–or can have in the future–but also helps us connect participants and/or organizations with other opportunities that can benefit their work. 

On July 31, 2015, Liz Grossman and I went to Ziguinchor to visit Leonie Gomis, a former participant in the 10 day pilot launch of the Tostan training in March.  She volunteers for the Platforme des Femmes pour la Paix en Casamance (PFPC), an advocacy group composed of 210 civil society member organizations focused on improving the lives of women and girls, with a particular focus on gender-based violence and community development. During the pilot training in March, Leonie had provided several perspectives about problem solving and peace building from the aftermath of the conflict in the Casamance. These shared perspectives then contributed to the learning experience of our other participants who were also working in peace building and conflict resolution in Liberia and Sierra Leone. 

Like Tostan, the PFPC member organizations hold social mobilization activities, one which we were fortunate enough to attend during our visit. It was led by Abba Daboand the theme was conflict resolution in sports. Abba Dabo had observed that often violence occurs through sports, and certain rival football clubs have created rifts within their communities. The meeting brought together about 20 young men in a circle to talk about conflict resolution methods such as prevention and mediation. Dabo emphasized the need to develop a sense of fraternity and to use sports to strengthen ties within and between communities.  Attending this activity allowed us, the TTC team, to see social mobilization in a non-Tostan context and get a sense of how it might be applied or adapted in different contexts. This in turn helps us improve the social mobilization aspect of our training moving forward. 

In order for the TTC to take up the role of ‘connector’ between participants and other organizations or individuals, we maintain an alumni network that allows us to know what the training participants are working on or are most passionate about professionally; we are then able to suggest opportunities that will improve their work. This has been the case with Karamo Conteh, another former training participant from The Gambia who works for RAID Gambia. Through the TTC Alumni network, Conteh was introduced to Dr. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Ghana. Dr. Appiagyei-Atua encouraged Conteh to apply for a West African Executive Course on human rights, harm reduction and drug policy control in Africa. 

As the TTC develops its course offerings and plans its future trainings, the alumni network will continue to grow, thus diversifying the post-training benefits available to our participants. The TTC is excited to welcome community development professionals and to learn and grow from the wide experiences of others.

Valencia Rakotomalala, Tostan Training Center