Deirdre Jafferally


My First Two Weeks on the Job

Field Report n°13

June 14, 2013

Bernie Robertson gives his views on his first two weeks on the job working with the COBRA Project. Bernie and his counterpart Aliki Haynes came on board the project just as Celine Tschirhart visited the team to do follow up work on Work Package 4.

Bernie at Crash Water – Creative Commons

Celine Tschirhart, our Royal Holloway- University of London counterpart, visited the North Rupununi from the 18th May to the 4th June 2013 to work with the local COBRA Team. The aim of the visit was to look at the progress made on the Work Package 4 deliverables – the photostories and participatory videos on community best practices; review the community handbook that was being developed on the project processes and if possible test the handbook out in a community. On the very same day Celine started work two new staff members joined the COBRA Team, Aliki Haynes from Kwatamang and me – Bernie Robertson from Annai Village.

At the start of the first day to ensure everyone was known to each other, the team did a round of introductions and welcomed myself and Aliki to the Team. I was happy to join the COBRA Team and the opportunity it gave me to work with everyone present. Our first introduction to the project was with the other staff members giving a brief narrative report of their work carried out since Celine was last here in February.  During this narration the team explained certain concepts that we would be hearing quite a lot during our time on the project including indicators, co-existence and ideal performance among others.

The next step was to begin screening the best practice videos the team had been working on base on their Orientors. Where we discussed and rearranged the videos according to the steps needed in order for communities to understand the step by step process being told by the story. During the discussions and planning, I personally did not understand much of what was being discussed, but with the help of Celine and the staff we were able to gain the concepts highlighted in each video.

For the rest of the first week much of the activities focused around the storylines for the videos and obtaining addition footage from the champions to further support what were already in the videos. The Team did not hesitate to send us into the communities to help. I visited the nearby communities of Annai and Surama with Rebecca Xavier, Community Research Assistant; to conduct interviews and obtain additional photographs need to complete the ideal performance best practice video.

It was my first outreach visit, I felt so comfortable and excited to have the feel of real community work which was great.

The second week of Celine’s visit introduced us to the practitioner’s handbook the Partners had been working on. My understanding of the handbook, at first, was that it was just a guide for facilitators to carry on activities in a better way. But it was much more than that. The handbook was a guide for identifying ideas that could make activities in the communities much better.

Following our review of the handbook, we visited the nearby riverian community of Crash Water to test certain modules of the handbook. The aim was to get a community to understand their challenges and finding best solutions to these challenges. This, also, was Celine’s first community outreach in the Rupununi so she was very excited.

To work with the community different team members took on different tasks. While Ryan (Community Outreach Coordinator) introduced the project and its objectives, Grace Albert and I introduced the idea of storyboarding as a way outlining a story. The trainees were keen and choose to develop a storyboard on the community’s history. This was followed by gathering images to create the photostory. The participants were very happy for the training they were receiving, especially how to use the digitals cameras and the first hand experience of using the video cameras.

After a brief recap of the first day the trainees were able to show the photostory on the history of Crash Water to other community members. The Toshao commented saying “having audiovisual materials such as was put together can make it more understandable for communities to understand their problems and history, share information, educate people and bring community togetherness”.

For the remainder of our time in the community we worked with the participants to identify some of the challenges they were facing and solutions to these challenges. These challenges and solutions were then categorised according to the system viability orientors. The COBRA Team was happy with the way things were going and the participation of the community. At the end of the visit the community promised to keep working on the photostory and to contact the Team whenever they needed help.

The two days at Crash Water was one that opened up my mind to see how much communities can improve communication, empower, educate and share information using audio visual materials in many different ways.

These first two weeks on the job I personally learnt a lot and felt that this was a real opportunity for young people like me to learn new things.



QUICK DOWNLOAD: Check out the English version of the COBRA Handbook for Practitioners.