After a very successful first ‘Democracy Evening’ event (if you didn’t attend, you missed out on a lot) we took a few days to take a deep breath and relax, and bask in the glory of our success!
A few days into the planning of the event, Maldivian Democracy Network expressed interest in joining our efforts, and offered to lend us their office space and their resources for the event (thanks, guys!). We decided to officially let them join our group of five NGOs working on this event, making it a group of six NGOs (Dhi Youth Movement, Transparency Maldives, Maldivian Democracy Network, Madulu, Revive and Strength of Society).
We, and our very generous supporter Jaadullah Jameel, began brainstorming on ideas for the next Democracy Evening. After much deliberation, we decided that ‘An Individual’s Role in A Viable Democracy’ would be the ideal topic of discussion for our event, and decided to hold the event on 7th July 2012.
Similar challenges faced us this time around too; the difficulty in finding an appropriate space for the event, advertising, sound and a general lack of support. So, we decided to hold our event at the Human Rights Commission’s training hall, like the first Democracy Evening; it’s convenient owing to the fact that it comes with chairs, sound and a projector.
We began talking about our event on social media (facebook.com/ADemocracyEvening) 3 days before hand, and managed to get people talking on the topic at hand. We posted a few sketches relating to the topic, to get the dialogue going and get an interest generated on the topic. Finally, it was the 7th of July, and we were excited beyond wits. We set up the training hall, and awaited with much excitement for the crowd to come by.
But only a few showed up. Being the organizers, we all felt a bit disheartened at this point. We even thought we should cancel the event. While we were contemplating on it, the power went out from the whole building and made us sink into even deeper despair. We sat in the dark for a few good minutes, when we all started chatting about the current debate which was ongoing, about the Death Penalty. The few people who turned up, sat around in a group, and started talking about it. Strong arguments were placed on both sides, and it turned into a very productive and enlightening discussion. We barely noticed when the power came back on, and by that time, our spirits had been lifted, and we decided to proceed with our event!
We played a few videos on Individual Responsibilities taken from CNN heroes (which is awe-inspiring, and never fails to strike a chord in our hearts). Half of us were teary by the end of it, and I personally, had a hard time talking. We asked the audience a few questions; why did these people in the videos do the things they did? Were they forced to? They did it because they took it as their own responsibility to heal what is broken in this world, and make it better. With that, we began group discussions on various areas where individuals can make a difference, including domestic violence, drug abuse, poverty and more. We even talked of how ordinary citizens can bring change by lobbying to their parliamentarians to make better choices, and to make them accountable.
It was unfortunate that we didn’t get the audience that we had hoped for… but you know what? The few people, who had turned up, told us that our efforts to inspire them had not gone to waste. They left the room inspired and willing to make a change in some small way, and to contribute to society, and bring about a viable democracy in this country through their individual responsibilities.
And we, DYM-ers, learnt a valuable and worthy lesson with the experience; not everything goes to plan - what matters is that we stick through it together and to never give up, because, even with the littlest of successes, you can make a huge difference in your community.
DYM #8 Democracy Evening #2
(all the photos from the day were misplaced and lost, apologies!)