|Community Monitoring in Health Resources for the Practitioner|
Step 2 – Group building
Once members of the community are familiar with the members of the facilitating organisation, its workers and purpose, it is important to move towards developing a formally shared objective with the community and also facilitate the formation of a collective or group which will represent community interests. In some cases there may be a pre-existing group which may have been formed for a different purpose. This group may choose to reorient its purpose for the current set of objectives and also include new members, or a new group may also emerge with some members from the earlier group and some new members. During group/collective formation process it is important to understand pre-existing groups and relationships and to build upon those. Some old groups may have lost energy but their leadership may be accommodated as mentors for youth who are willing to work for change. It is important the members of the group realize that their involvement in the social change process – in this case improvement in health service delivery through community monitoring, has to be through volunteer effort. In exchange for their volunteer efforts, the facilitating organization chooses to provide some equipment for a youth club, books for a community library and so on. This kind of contribution may assist the process of group building. But Community Facilitators have to be conscious that they do not do anything which may undermine community identity, local leadership or promote personal interest over group interest.
Some of the practical steps towards group building could be to announce a meeting in the community around the issue of health. Pamphlets can be distributed to literate people and posters put up in the common meeting places of the people (e.g. near Church, wells, market place, playing area etc.), announcing purpose and time of the meeting and inviting all to attend. During this meeting it is a good idea to ask a person from the community to introduce the facilitating organization, and then the facilitating organization can introduce its purpose etc. The community has to be introduced to the general outlines of the health entitlements that it has and how gaps in the entitlements or in the way the services are being provided can affect their ability to access health services. At this meeting the contours of the new group is established.