Preparing for the Mo’ Girls pilot programme was not just about convincing parents to sign their girls up for camp or finding suitable venues. It was, first and foremost, about developing a curriculum that could adequately get the desired results of empowering girls through entrepreneurship and developing a team that would effectively use it to do so. In that vein, Melissa Matthews and Michele Matthews-Morancie, The MAMs, spent months weeding through CVs and referrals from their network and even more time developing a curriculum to train future facilitators on how to use the actual Mo’ Girls curriculum as they prepared to form a team.
Not everyone made the cut. Of 30 applicants to participate in the workshop, 14 were invited to take part in the Train-the-Trainer programme, 12 were invited to facilitate and/or audit for the pilot camps and ultimately, only nine will continue to work for the programme going forward. Hence, everyone involved realized that this project and this process required unbridled commitment to the work, openness to feedback, and flexibility to adapt to any changes in course.
“ You have to be so particular when you are dealing with people’s children. Not only were we seeking capable facilitators who could adapt and deliver the curriculum the way we envisioned it, but we needed people who we could trust with these young minds and hearts. I think assessing and cutting people who aren’t a fit at every stage of the programme is crucial for quality assurance and will continue to be necessary as we grow the programme,” said Matthews-Morancie.
The process was rigorous and unforgiving; potential facilitators committed to a five to six day intensive training programme (over the course of a month or a full week depending on their availability) in which they were asked to step outside of their comfort zones in every way possible. They were asked to let go of their notions about what facilitation was and open themselves to the possibilities of what it could be for themselves and the Mo’ Girls’ participants.They were put on the spot, charged with performing extempo calypsos, writing and recording fairytales, engaging in deep dive conversations about their own self esteem and confidence. They were charged with being as vulnerable and engaged as they would expect the girls to be at camp. They did not have the luxury of being voyeurs in the process because they were asked to participate in, play at, challenge each other and/ or perform—all the tasks that they would inevitably ask the camp participants to do— during the Train-the-Trainers programme.
“[I had] no idea it would be like this. I thought [facilitation work for Mo’ Girls] would be much more cut and dry like teaching or tutoring What excited me most about the process was the teamwork,” said Alana Ramlal, Train-the-Trainer participant and one of just nine remaining camp facilitators.
The Train-the-Trainers workshop was exhausting, exhilarating and ultimately invaluable as it resulted in a strong, adaptable and capable team of facilitators for the programme going forward. Many of the facilitators even counted the train the trainers programme amongst their favorite parts of the overall Mo’ Girls Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Pilot Programme experience.
“Following a plan, making a goal work and having those connecting-the-dots or light bulb moments that we ourselves experienced in the training were the things that made me want to stick with the project,” Ramlal said.