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Mona Yadav has been working intensively with PFP as a gender facilitator over the past year and ran a space for safe sharing of personal experiences at the launch of our flagship project, Pratiti. She shares a powerful account of her experience there.

Dwelling into the oceans of facilitation

The whole idea of co-creating the stalls seemed very exciting to me! But, I didn’t know how exhausting it’s going to be to co-create 7 stalls for the event. Ideating with 6-7 people over emails, calls and in- person conversations for so, many days seemed bit taxing for me! The trying in to consolidate everyone’s ideas into the stall design did begin putting me into stretch zone!

And, this stretch zone continued while, having the final conversations over the design and to realize that the stalls need to be developed into a workshop space to give the participants complete experiences. It took me sometime to feel comfortable with the design. Further, the process of creating logistics for the stalls brought me closer to the expected facilitation space and it brought me into my comfort zone.

But, fell back into the stretch zone when I had to decide facilitators for each stall. Since, I have been following co-creation very deeply; I found it really tough to decide who will do what but, I somehow managed to have detailed conversations with each facilitator to understand their comforts and stretch zones while, making choices to facilitate a particular stall. I personally abstain from so, many conversations over calls and love communicating in person. But, was constantly lacking such conversations and most of my energy was getting exhausted in this!!

I was feeling a gap of communication between the facilitators and the interns who had to support them so; I had designed a facilitator check-in before the event and post feedback session to experience the collaborative spirit and could have brought them closer as, people. Unfortunately, both the processes couldn’t happen because of lack of time and diverted energies of people!

Coming back to the experience of facilitating the “sharing stall” or “dil ki baat”; I had designed it as, an intimate space for only 3 people to engage in deeply by sharing, supporting and reflecting on their personal gender based violence experiences. To ensure that it doesn’t become an opinion stall; I invited an agreement for 3 ground rules which I deeply follow such as, listening, speaking from the ‘I’ and emptying the cup. I had created consent forms also, to ensure that video recording of their sharing doesn’t make them feel violated and ensuring respect for all.

In the first facilitation space with 3 of us ;I had a girl sharing in her struggles of being labeled as, a “tom boy” and a boy sharing in his struggles to come to terms with the standards of masculinity while, he likes to cook and not ride bikes etc. Another boy sharing in his feelings of being considered “different” for being always a reserved person and not like other guys! And, he was the only one who didn’t wanted his sharing to be recorded so, this was ensured.

In the second facilitation space created; I had this girl sharing in a detailed account of discrimination that she experiences because of her race and because of her gender. She shared that she feels violated and humiliated every time she is called a “chinki”. Because of her financial constraints; she began travelling in a DTC bus to her college. She experienced incidents of sexual molestation 4 times but, the fifth time she confronted the offender and felt that she has to speak up! She felt overwhelmed after sharing this…. Another female shared experiences wherein she cried and felt helpless watching a little girl being beaten badly by her father because she’s a girl and another experience where she felt violated by watching a nude women begging at a stoppage!!

In the third facilitation space created post some minutes of break for a performance; a man came in and shared his very intimate experience of being a victim of forced sex by his very close friend. This finished their friendship and he never imagined that a woman who is his close friend will ever do this with me; he was shattered! He further shared being a polysexual and he’s pretty comfortable with his sexuality!…

By this time, I was feeling little overwhelmed and was kind of losing my emotional energy; felt like taking a breather! But, couldn’t leave the facilitation space!…

I had a man who is a gay coming in to share his experiences. He shared his very intimate experiences of sexual abuse in childhood by a man; leading him to feel attracted to men and his struggles being “gay” in our society. I was feeling heavy after his sharing and felt like I was taking on his sharing!…

Lastly, I had this man who came in to share. He’s identifies as, a female and engages in sex-work. He shared his very intimate experience of being gang raped by a group of men and he said that he is sharing this first time to anybody! I already had tears rolling over my face and my throat choked! After his sharing; I couldn’t say anything to him. But, I only folded my hands in submission to genuinely thank him from my heart to feel the trust in me to share this!

Just when I wanted to shrug this off and process it personally; we had to gather for the 2 years of pfp celebration and then, I experienced heightened emotion of happiness being part of the celebratory space!! I again felt like having a breather to seep in such powerful emotions but, I could sense my new little friend kind of upset and I didn’t felt like leaving her alone. She shared that she wanted to come and experience my stall as; there was some energy that was pulling her there!! I was glad that I could support her sharing and initiated a warm hug (stretched to do it; do it very rarely) to make her feel better!

Personally, I feel a lot of gratitude, feeling blessed and thankful that people considered me emphatic and trustful to share their life experiences with me and they felt supported by me!….

The Pratiti project is supported by Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation (NSF), UN Habitat and Pravah.



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