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Originally produced for UNICEF



The response of most people to the Colour My House process has been positive, but the pace of learning and the commitment to action varies widely. In at least one village, following training, relations between the Ward Member and other community members broke down. While the community was able to go forward with the process and to carry out several projects, without the Ward Member it was impossible for their Ward plan to be submitted through the Local Level Government assembly. The participation of the Ward Member is critical since he is the only legally mandated person who can take the process forward to the next political level.

Elizabeth, Atemble Village, Middle Ramu District, Madang Province

I had four children but my third child died from malaria when she was a few weeks old. The first two are 6 and 5 Christmasses and the youngest, Audrina, is sixteen months. I went with my husband and children to the health meeting. We coloured our house and we had a lot of red marks. Audrina wasn’t fully immunized. She had no growth chart. After we weighed her Woss, the community health worker, said she was underweight. I wasn’t surprised. Audrina is weak. I thought she wanted to die. But I followed the advice of I was given. I gave her banana, fish and fruit to eat, and fed her several times each day. Gradually her weight began to go up. Now I think that Audrina does not want to die anymore. I think she will live. I told my husband. He is happy about it.

David, Young Man’s House, Atemble, Middle Ramu District, Madang

I live in the young man’s house. All the boys move in there when they are about 12 years old and stay until they get married. We went along to the community health meeting and coloured the man’s house just like any other. We do not have children in the man’s house but I suppose it was useful to be at the meeting because one day I will be a father. The man’s house doesn’t have a latrine. We haven’t built one yet and I don’t know if we will. We haven’t talked about it.

Noah Gibson, Ward Member, Weyoko Ward

Most people in the community are behind the project but some are opposed. These are usually more educated people who have been to the capital but have come home because they are unemployed. They are very critical of everything. They want to show off their smartness and to challenge our political leaders. They tell the people that the activity is a waste of time and that nothing will ever change. We have to try and include these people because the project cannot work unless everyone is involved but it is a struggle to convince them.

The quality of the process in any community depends to a great extent on the quality of the trainers. Ward members, health workers and other trainers receive five days training. In general the Ward Members and Community Health Workers seemed well qualified and capable, but when the training fell on the shoulders of less qualified Aid Post Orderlies, the outcome was less certain. There are difficulties at times with the non-formal, interactive style that is essential for the full participation of families. Support for the trainers is provided by district and provincial health officials.

Sustaining the enthusiasm of communities for the process can present difficulties. In the initial stages, change comes very quickly but then the pace slows and communities are more likely to run into problems. The solution is to seek additional goals that are manageable by the community themselves.