Noumenm – Summing up an Experience: Pedro Poblete
Noumenm is a word in Haitian Kreyol and stands for “ourselves” and “yourselves” simultaneously. It does not differentiate between “we” and “you”; they mix and create something different. Just like the project itself, this is based on the principles of partnership and solidarity to empower people at a grassroots level. This vision has always been part of our project, but the implementation has evolved over time, defining our work with the multiple experiences we have had lately. The most important of these activities has been the Melton Foundation’s Deep Dive.
In March 2013 – six months after we had started a more systematical approach to work with Grand Boukan community – along with the Melton Foundation we supported the technical implementation of small projects with different community groups and the Melton Fellows, who would immerse themselves in a different culture, different ideals and different living conditions.
This collaboration gave us new insights of what Noumenm is about, because when You and Us blended together, solidarity and planning emerged not only in the community but also in the external participants. The Deep Dive brought new levels of community organizing to light; people in Grand Boukan started to do things on their own. For us, this meant we needed new ways of structuring our work. We began to work with frameworks and to define goals together with the community to keep empowering their organizations and to foster the self-determination of the community as a whole.
The Deep Dive made us realize many things. For the Melton Fellows it created awareness about the situation in the community, which is a step towards closing the gap between the You and Us. We created a meeting space centered in small ongoing projects, where a certain way of working and a certain set of values have nourished the mutual relationship between the Grand Boukan community and Noumenm. And the community itself has given us thousands of new ideas, new motivations and new opportunities to work together on a common goal.
The Deep Dive had its share of success and failure, but we have learned from both. Today you can see the results of this learning. The Deep Dive was more than just transferring skills to the community because we – Noumenm and the Melton Foundation – have learned so much from the community. Ultimately, they are the ones building the road, setting the goals and defining ways to move forward. A community structure has been transformed and strengthened in order to continue from the grassroots the changes needed in Grand Boukan.
Peter Drucker, management consultant and educator once said “the best way to predict the future is to create it”, and we see the power of those words in every visit to Grand Boukan, where a community fights every day to predict its future.