Strengthening individual and organisational capacities: The workshops with “amigonian employees” at OPAN

Strenghtening capacities with OPAN

Gisella Olivera

Latin America


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As part of the objectives defined within the framework of PRIDE between OPAN and IBCR, it was proposed to contribute to the "Strengthening of individual and organisational capacities". For this reason, within the training of OPAN actors - amigonian employees (*), three (3) workshop seminars were designed and carried out by our Pride Volunteer Cooperant, Gisella Olivera, with key topics for the training of professionals who are part of the OPAN programme teams.

The training is carried out using the Seminar-Workshop methodology because it guarantees that, during one day, a playful and dialogical atmosphere is generated in which everyone genuinely and spontaneously contributes their points of view and contrasts their professional experience. The first Seminar-Workshop: "Taking care of me in order to take care: Ethics of care and Life Skills", was the first one.   

The activities of this meeting were aimed at addressing the reference framework of the Ethics of Care associated with the art of caring; care and self-care as part of human development.  The Life Skills component, LfL, was worked on in relation to self-care as a transversal element to be taken into account in order to favour emotional skills such as empathy, management of emotions and feelings, and management of tension and stress.  

This was followed by a personal activity in which each person had the opportunity to work on the scheme of the five spheres of self-care (body, interpersonal relationships, transcendence, intellect and emotions) guided by the facilitator.  As part of the experience and alluding to the importance of loving oneself (self-love), a "kit of affection. From me to me" where each person received a personalised gift prepared for the occasion, to be used during the Seminar-Workshop.  

The guiding axes alluding to self-care and care served as a basis for analysing the possibilities that each human being has to strengthen their individual and organisational capacities. The methodologies applied made it possible to promote interaction and exchange of views on the need for self-care as a basis for caring for others.  


Participants highlight from Seminar Workshop 1 the opportunity to:  

"Sharing, listening and reflecting on the opinions of peers". 

"Recognising the importance of taking care of myself in order to take care of others. The importance of managing my emotions". 

Secondly, a seminar workshop was held: "From understanding to action: Initial sensitisation to the gender approach". This was carried out to explain what it is and how OPAN's accompaniment of children, adolescents and young people is put into action from a gender perspective. This, given the importance of promoting an understanding of what gender means as a historical and normative reference and as a focus for action.  

In this full-day meeting, explanatory interventions and practical exercises were carried out to differentiate concepts such as: sex, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as the analysis of gender roles from stereotypes and prejudices, as part of the belief system, and the effects they generate. In addition, an analysis was made of the gender approach and the historical and legal frameworks, in the case of Colombia, which have enabled progress to be made in guaranteeing women's rights.  

In sum, the experience allowed for personal and professional reflections, exchanging points of view and promoting analysis aimed at recognising and making explicit the need to consider the gender category in the actions of each programme run by OPAN.   

Analysis of the timeline of "Legal Milestones in Colombia" for the guarantee of women's rights.

Learnings from Seminar Workshop 2: 

"My main learnings were to manage to identify further learning vis-à-vis sex, gender, sexual identity and orientation." 

"History of gender-related rights and the difference of concepts: sexuality and gender Applicability of the gender approach in practice with one." 

Evaluation of the workshop:  

"The workshop allowed me to reflect on the approach that should be given to the gender issue from my professional praxis and how we should move forward on this issue". 

The closing of the training sessions for "amigonian employees" focused the reflection, from the Seminar-workshop: "Types of leadership: Towards transformational leadership", on the types of leadership that are exercised in the daily actions in OPAN and on noticing the importance of some remarkable skills required to enhance transformational leadership for personal and group benefit in OPAN.  

Considerations were made in relation to the importance of having personal capacities, whether personal or essential, for the exercise of transformational leadership, among which empathetic work, assertive communication, creative thinking and emotional intelligence stand out.

Photo: Who am I as a leader? Example to follow.

"I learned that it is important to have leadership in order to apply it assertively for teamwork". 

The evaluation of this workshop can be summarised as follows:  

"The workshop was practical, didactic, opportunity to reflect on different leadership styles." 

"I value the good work and dedication to carry out the workshop. Congratulations, blessings". 

As a balance of the overall participation, the 3 workshop seminars brought together professionals from the Protection teams (prevention of violation and restoration of rights) and from OPAN's Adolescent Criminal Responsibility System (adolescents and young people who are in conflict with the law), of which 42 were present; who had the opportunity to leave the daily routine of their professional work and interact among colleagues and peers, in an atmosphere of relaxation and trust, where each member of the workshop seminar contributed and received feedback from the others.  

After this experience of design, implementation and direct interaction with the people who represent OPAN, I can only be satisfied and grateful for the opportunity to get to know them, identify their willingness and commitment to their mission. I am pleased to have been the pretext to convene and provoke reflections that are still under construction. What a happy moment! We continue to strengthen capacities.  

As a symbolic act, a personalised certificate of participation was awarded at the end of each seminar/workshop. 

(*) "Group of people who are linked to the Amigonian work by work ties, contributing to its growth and focusing their work on the accompaniment of young people and families; corresponds to all those who feel committed to the Institution through their participation in the Charism that the Holy Spirit has given through Father Luís Amigo y Ferrer" 2016. Protocol PGH-01. 

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Volunteer cooperation program funded by Global Affairs Canada.