By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)
From 20 – 25 June 2014 national leaders from both FEDUP and ISN met in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal, for a leadership retreat. The aim of the retreat was to open up a space for leaders to reflect and reassess the different methods and tools they have been using to mobilise their communities.
These tools – mobilization and savings, exchanges, enumerations, mapping, and community-led implementation – are a shared set of rituals that all federations affiliated to Shack / Sum Dwellers International (SDI) practice. The retreat was not only a time of reflection, reorientation and discussion. It was also one of practical learning, especially in mapping, enumeration and savings practices, in which leaders refocused on the strength of these tools to mobilise new informal settlements and savings schemes.
At the beginning of the retreat, Rose Molokoane, national co-ordinator of FEDUP explained,
“The last time we were here in Durban was for the march [to eThewkini Municipality] on 24 March 2014. We realized then that we need to continue building our leadership to make our work and these kind of events successful because an organisation is not a project, but a process. This is when the idea developed to call most if not all our leaders to a retreat”
This went hand in hand with developing and discussing a joint focus for the retreat. In thinking about the nature of a retreat, the group responded that it viewed the retreat as a time of reflection, co-operation, re-affirming vision, working together and a reminder of the Alliance’s current position. The group also highlighted that it wanted to achieve this focus by better understanding the Alliance’s vision and background as well as getting practically involved in community activities.
While the first day of the retreat looked back at the history and foundation of the Alliance, the other days focused on building the capacity of Alliance leaders for current and future activities. On the first day therefore the group focused on the Alliance’s founding gathering at Broederstroom and reminded each other of five pillars: love, availability, transparency, trust and commitment.
On the remaining four days Alliance leaders split into teams to do enumeration and mapping exercises in Boxwood and Johanna Road settlements in Kenville and to collect savings in Kwa Bestar. This meant that FEDUP and ISN members, some for the first time, became actively involved in one another’s tools of enumeration and savings.
These days also included training with the CORC enumeration team and workshops on the organisational roles and structure of the SA Alliance (ISN, FEDUP, CORC & uTshani Fund).
Enumerations and mapping
The enumeration activities in Boxwood and Johanna Rd introduced FEDUP members to the practice of numbering, shack measuring, data collection and capturing, and settlement mapping. For Rose, it was clear that celebrating information is vital. This is why enumerations are so powerful – the socio-demographic questionnaires collect valuable information that communities can use to better organize themselves and lobby local government. Ma Mkhabela, from FEDUP KZN agreed that,
“It’s important that leaders are present at enumerations so that they can be in touch with community issues. Enumerations help to give people a space to relate to each other”
(Ma Mkhabela, FEDUP KZN)
Similarly, mapping and measuring give community members a further tool for planning and lobbying. By knowing the number of pathways in one’s settlement, or the incline of gradients, communities can contribute to developing a plan for their settlement.
During the savings collection in Durban’s Kwa Bestar, ISN members received a direct insight to the power of savings. They saw how savings can strongly connect communities through regular savings collection visits that also offer a personal opportunity to enquire about the welfare of a fellow savings scheme member.
Ndodeni Dengo ,Durban’s ISN co-ordinator, reflected,
“It was my first time collecting door-to-door savings. We need to take this back to our communities”
Looking back and moving forward
During the feedback session many groups expressed the value they saw in working together as a team and emphasized the need to continue sharing ideas and establishing a good working relationship between ISN & FEDUP.
“This retreat has revived me. I’m now able to remember things I had forgotten. I learned how things should be done in our organisation. Our pillars are there to grow the organisation. In our region, we now also know about the power or enumerations”
(Rosina Mufumadi, FEDUP Limpopo)