MCNV is member of the Barefoot Guide Alliance, an alliance of 6 organisations around the world, which are sustaining the Barefoot Guide Connection to spread its message and methods. The Barefoot Guide Connection is a global network of individuals and organisations that value deep reflection on development practices by and for practitioners. A method that has emerged from writing four Barefoot guides is the ‘Writeshopping for Development’ methodology. This methodology is characterised by learning practitioners to write and by using writing as an individual and collective reflection tool that stimulates learning. The method can be summarised as ‘Learning to Write and Writing to Learn’.
MCNV has contributed to a number of Barefoot Guides and initiated the development of a Barefoot Guide on Inclusion in 2016. The development of the guide is supported by a number of organisations, teams and individuals who are also contributing to its content such as War Child, Liliane Foundation, Light for the World and the VOICE team (consisting of staff of HIVOS and OXFAM NOVIB working on Inclusion).
12, 13 and 14 May the five editors of the team worked on the further editing of the guide. As MCNV has gained a lot of practical experience on the writeshopping methodology, the idea of sharing the methodology with a broader public came up. This resulted in a workshop on ‘Facilitating Writeshopping for Development’ on 15 and 16 May, facilitated by Akke Schuurmans (MCNV), Doug Reeler (CDRA South Africa), the Founding Father of Barefoot Guides and Cristina Temmink (independent facilitator), who has profound experience on the methodology.
The workshop was hosted at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague by Kees Biekart, Associate professor in Political Sociology at the Institute. He said ‘I am very interested in your work. We actually use some parts of your Barefoot Guides in our lecture’.
The workshop was attended by fifteen professionals who all had experience in facilitation. Their backgrounds ranged from journalism in developing countries to social inclusion work in the Netherlands with sexually abused youth and with youth with mental health issues. At the evaluation all of them said they had learned something new and they looked forward to applying the method in their work. The following statements show what the participants particularly valued from the workshop:
‘I really liked to obtain life and instant feedback on my writing from people (instead of written)’
‘It’s a joyful experience to receive feedback. First there was fear, but then I saw that feedback is a good thing’
‘I can now say with a participants hat on: ‘the process works, you can write a story’
‘This process really helped me to look at different angles of a story’
‘Before this workshop, I was convinced there is a tension between writing for accountability on the one hand and writing to learn and for empowerment on the other hand…Through this method I now see that this reflective process generates quality writing as well as learning so it can be combined’.