With New Knowledge Comes New Practices By Joana Janja, (Angola)

Interview With Joana Janja, Mosaiko/Instituto Para Cidadania, Angola

Joana Janja is an active life Catholic nun from Angola who is coordinating the Department of Justice and Human Rights under “Mosaiko|Instituto Para Cidadania.” Janja is enrolled in a TFT course with Mosaiko that started in February 2019.

TFT: What impact did TFT have on you?

Janja: TFT has impacted me much more than I can say. Firstly, because in school I learned that the teacher was the holder of knowledge and the eternal student, apprentice, I did not have the power to contest or to give my opinion. However, I learned from TFT that an individual is not a blank paper where each one comes and writes from their experiences, perspectives, but each brings knowledge that enriches others.

I learned a new way of seeing the world around me, sharing knowledge, learning through symbols, valuing what we have, and looking for new alternative ways to address issues for the good of all. This has changed my life. Today, when I go for training I know at the end I will come back more enriched with the knowledge of others. These learnings have been crucial in my daily life, starting with very small things: I teach our girls some religion classes at home, and I have used the TFT method through participatory tools – everyone has a voice and is given an opportunity to share so we build knowledge together. TFT’s wealth is reciprocal learning, we all have something to give, and no matter how little it is we all have something to receive.

What were the key learnings for you? 

Janja: (1) Knowing the self and the story of the others has helped me to maintain good interpersonal relationships and has generated in me more self-confidence and believing in my abilities (2) The starting point of the various learnings was from the individual and I learned that I am really the only agent of change in myself (3) The dynamics of the river code: Do with people and not for them (4) Six Steps of Digging Deeper: There are no consequences without deep causes of the problems (5) The dynamics of the Web of oppression of women: The weight that women carry. My question is what I can do to strengthen women’s empowerment. As an institution, we have only started training with women recently. 

TFT: What were some of the challenges?

Despite adapting participatory methods, TFT training requires a lot of reading in order to adapt the methods to the content and the realities of the participants. It means that the facilitator should also be flexible. The application of TFT in technical subjects is very demanding, but it is not impossible. TFT is challenging because its planning is never fully done, it continues until the end of the training itself.

TFT: Were you able to apply your new knowledge in the organization?

Yes, I managed to apply the learnings in the organization. From PowerPoint presentations, I moved to participatory dynamics in all trainings. We have invested a lot of time in the preparation of training. Others, from our organization who do not participate in TFT training have come for assistance with their training and assessment. I have personally applied the methodology outside of the organization as well, in my own home (nun’s house) with a group of girls I teach. I apply participatory methodologies almost in everything. In addition, I am helping others to apply in other (religious) contexts. 

TFT: How did Covid-19 affect the way you work and how did you adapt?

Janja: COVID-19 brought instability in all aspects of the work itself, with the decree of the state of emergency in the country, work and other activities were reduced and radically interrupted the trips we were used to making. It brought fears of being infected – even amongst family members. Tele-working was necessary, which was sometimes difficult to reconcile with homework. It meant more hours of working because of interruptions to attend to other domestic tasks.