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Monday, October 14, 2013

Turtle conservation site communities in Madang empowered with communication skills

SeaWeb Asia Pacific is a regional organization that advances sustainable resource management through strategic communications and social marketing approaches. In this unique region, applying these approaches invariably revolves around empowering local leaders to facilitate community dialogues around the need to marry traditional cultural practices and modern science to solve resource management challenges.
Seaweb in collaboration with Mas Kagin Tapani (MAKATA) organised this workshop to build the communications capacity of community members to effectively disseminate information to the community at large. 
The workshop was conducted to members of Karkum and Sarang villages along the North Coast road of Madang Province who are involved in the protection of the leatherback turtles that nest along the sandy beach of these communities. Efforts to extend the protection area have been hindered by lack of effective awareness and other factors.
The communications training workshop was conducted at Karkum village from 18th to the 20th of September, 2013. It was attended by at least 50 people from Karkum and the neiboughring Sarang villages. The participants were mainly, youths (males and females) and elder men who occupy leadership roles in the community were on hand to provide encouragement for the youths. Many of the participants are currently involved in other community activities such as law and order committee, youth committee, church committee, water committee etc...and the skills obtained in this training is an enabler to help them effectively communicate with the community on issues of importance to the community.
Seaweb Asia Pacific was privileged to have been a part of this training in building the capacity of these community leaders.
Community Communications need
The needs of the participants are around three key areas; Public presentation, packaging information and radio presentation. Hence the training program covered these key areas with many practical activities.
Workshop objectives
By the end of the workshop, participants must be able to;
1.    Identify fundamentals of communications
2.    Develop concise message for a target audience
3.    Deliver informative and persuasive presentation
4.    Identify ways to execute successful meetings and workshops
5.    Identify radio interview techniques and conduct a radio interview
6.    Indentify public speaking techniques
7.    Conduct a public speaking session using message box and better presentation
8.    Facilitate a dummy meeting or workshop

How did the workshop address these needs
The workshop covered the following;
Introduction to communications
This covers the fundamentals of communications. It gives an understanding of the elements of communications, effective and barriers of communications.
Group discussions around communications; what participants think communications is, what is good communications and why and what is bad communications and why. This was followed by a presentation.
Better presentations
Better presentations teach how to deliver more engaging, informative and persuasive presentations.  Better Presentations help avoid the most commonly made mistakes, structure information in ways that help audiences absorb it, and deliver talks with greater confidence.
A presentation was conducted on presentations. The reflections about presentations at community meetings by elders, and many times the community leaders take so long to relay a message in a short time. Many times community members lose concentration, resulting in the message not adhered to.
Message box
TThe message box is powerful tool that help to prepare for interviews, frame a press release, organize a lecture or discussion, or to explain what your organization does in one minute or less. Sharpens focus, and gain audience’s attention.
A presentation conducted on the message box and the sample was conducted for participants. Then one was developed by all the participants. A group activity was conducted in which all participants identified an issue and a message box was developed. Overpopulation, land acquisition and marine pollution were issues identified and message box developed.
Basic Facilitation
FBasic Facilitation give the tools needed to prepare and plan for a session, focus participants on the job at-hand, and understand the tasks that need to happen after the meeting. Useful when facilitating community meetings.
A presentation was delivered. Two volunteers were selected to facilitate the session on developing a workshop agenda and the question and answer session.
Public speaking/presentation
Teaches the skills of making public presentations. What needs to be done before, during and after the presentations.
General discussion on public speaking and a presentation. Using the message box participants developed a message and presented their message using public speaking techniques.
Radio interview
Radio is a common media accessible throughout PNG. This teaches how to conduct radio interviews, before, during and after the interview.
This session did not eventuate, as the NBC staff were not there to co facilitate.
However, it was planned that the participants were to be interviewed on radio, conduct an awareness on  turtle conservation; both to be aired by NBC for Madang Province
Minute taking skills
Teaches the importance of taking minutes and how to take minutes
A presentation on minute taking skills. A dummy meeting was conducted by 5 volunteers and the rest were minute takers.

All topics above were provided by Seaweb, except minute taking skills. The minutes taking skills was suggested by the participants as it was a much needed skill that they lack. Seaweb developed a presentation on the minute taking skill.
All sessions were very interactive with participants having plenty of practice. The participants were given the opportunity to evaluate participants doing presentations The workshop objectives were achieved.  Below are some comments from some of the participants;
a)    Joe Hurim, a village court magistrate from Sarang said: “This is the first time such training is conducted for villagers of Sarang, Basken, and Karkum.  The training will help young leaders’ especially young women leaders to have confidence to do public speaking, conduct meetings, take meeting minutes, and to identify community issues, problems, steps to solve those problems and see their benefits.”
b)    Otto P. Gabbe, from Karem village was excited about the course.  He said: “We are so fortunate to be given this training which is normally conducted in hotels and at universities for a substantial amount of money.” He added that the skills learnt will be used to help them run their own affairs in the community.
c)    Adolf Lilai, from Karkum Sea Turtle Restoration Project committee said, the training has empowered them to understand the significance of keeping meeting minutes.   
To conclude, this workshop was the first to be conducted in Madang. The workshop was tailored to cater for community members. Most of the participants could read and write making presentations easy.
On behalf of Seaweb I thank Mas Kagin Tapani for engaging us to run the communications workshop, and UNDP for making it possible to have this workshop conducted.

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