Training for Transformation can be described as a great river originating in a number of different springs.


‘Training for Transformation’ can be described as a great river originating in a number of different springs.These sources were joined together initially in the Delta Training Programme of team training for development workers, started in Kenya by Anne Hope and Sally Timmel in 1973. Since then numerous tributaries bringing new insights and skills have contributed effective ways of enabling local communities to improve the quality of their lives in the ways they choose. The leadership skills and methodology of DELTA and TfT have „irrigated‟ and brought new life to different fields: including Health, Agriculture, Literacy, Women‟s and Youth groups, Group ranches and Income- producing projects, Lay leadership in faith communities, Catechetics and Religious Education.

From 1973 to 1980 the Kenyan program was sponsored by the Catholic Church with major support from Enda Byrne, originally the development co-ordinator. He secured funding from many Catholic funding agencies for international development in Europe. Teams of development workers were trained in 9 of the 15 dioceses existing in the country at that time. There was close co-operation with the National Christian Council of Kenya, with support from Bethuel Kiplagat, Harold Miller and Sam Kobiah. Over 500 people, mostly laypeople, but also a number of priests and nuns, were involved in the training, and 3 million people were involved in the programs they had started by 1983. Training programs were also held in Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Southern Africa, and India during those years.

In 1972 Anne had done a series of workshops with Steve Biko and 15 members of the South African Student Organisation, who were planning to run a national literacy programme based on Freire‟s work on conscientization at the Grail Centre in Johannesburg. With Steve she worked out the four phased training programme, which later became the basic structure of the Delta programme in Kenya. The literacy programme did not take place, as planned because most of the students were arrested by the government, but many of them used the process in a variety of ways later on.

The first three books called Training for Transformation were written in 1982 by Anne Hope and Sally Timmel, and published by Mambo Press in Zimbabwe in 1984. A full explanation of the underlying philosophy and learning processes developed in the program can be found in these books. They were banned in South Africa by the Apartheid government, but were reprinted as Community Workers Handbook, and then circulated widely throughout the 80‟s in the struggle in South Africa.

During the following 20 years, training and active programs of participatory development, using this methodology, or some parts of it, also evolved in Ireland, Eastern Europe, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, the United States and various other countries. Many people were asking where they could go to get a more advanced training. Though there were many academic programs in universities dealing with different aspects of the theory, there was no place we knew of that put together the process of Reflection and Action in the way it was originally done in Delta. Moreover local programmes were usually done in a series of short phases, which made it impractical for trainers from other countries to participate.

In 2000 the Partners Programme in Ireland started to plan a gathering of people who were using the methods and had developed further insights and new „best practices‟ in different parts of the world. 60 such people gathered at the Spiritan College at Kimmage in Ireland for two weeks in July 2001, and there was a strong request for Sally Timmel and Anne Hope to start an advanced international training programme.

Since 2002 Training for Transformation facilitated 9 Diploma and 3 Certificate Courses that trained 458 civil society leaders and activists from 113 organisations 40 countries, Africa, Asia, Europe, South and North America. The courses are jointly certified by Kimmage Development Studies Centre, Dublin, Ireland, and The Grail Centre Trust. Participatory Impact Studies were held in 2009 and 2014 to find out what difference the work of these trainees has made in the lives of poor communities in their own countries.

Kleinmond (South Africa) has also hosted a number of ‘Think-wells’ drawing together our mentors and other experts in various fields, to ensure that the programme keeps in touch with the latest thinking on relevant issues. In 2007 a ten day programme was held on 'A New Map of the World' to explore the impact of major changes in global power dynamics with the growing economic and political influence of India and China. In 2009 it took place 'The Economic Meltdown - How will it affect our work with marginalized communities'  Think-well; 'Transition to a Self-sustaining Town' was the theme in 2011. 'Training for Transformation In Practice' happened in 2013 and the ''Super Trainers' in 2015.

Sources of Inspiration.

There were five major sources of inspiration which were initially incorporated into the Delta Training programme.

  1. The philosophy and early practice of the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.
  2. Insights into group dynamics and human relationships learnt from active participation in the Christian Education and Leadership Training (CELT) which ran very effective programmes in South Africa during the 60‟s and 70‟s.
  3. Economic, political, social, and cultural analysis, learnt partly through the Ecumenical Institute for the Development of Peoples (INODEP) based in Paris.
  4. The Vision of a New Society, built up from many sources, including the Bible, and Rick Turner‟s book „The Eye of the Needle‟.
  5. Underlying all this was the spiritual concept of transformation, and a belief that transformation is possible on all levels, the personal, in small face-to-face groups, in the institutions where we work, in governance of the wider society, and in relationship with our planet, Earth.

In the 90’s The Training for Transformation books were revised and brought up to date. A fourth book was added dealing with four major dimensions of development which had become increasingly important, and which had not been adequately dealt with in the first three books. It included chapters and exercises on:

  1. The Environmental Crisis, alternative sources of energy, lifestyles and policies, and the spirituality of eco-feminism and deep ecology.
  2. Gender Analysis and the effects of gender power relationships on all aspects of development.
  3. Culture and intercultural understanding; racism on the personal, social and institutional level.
  4. Governance; budget analysis, lobbying, advocacy, and co-operation with local government.

At this point we also started to use Manfred MaxNeef’s work on Fundamental Human Needs, adapting his grid to a wheel diagram, which proved more practical for popular analysis. This contributed significantly to ongoing work on „The Vision of a New Society‟.

Meanwhile in different countries, besides ongoing work in lay leadership and community building, and in the other fields mentioned above, the process of reflection and action using the TfT principles, was being applied in response to a wide range of other needs. These include, among many others:

  1. Health care. Pioneering work a was done in this field by Geraldine Huizing in Machakos, Kenya; and by Dave Hilton, of the World Council of Churches, and Bethann Witcher in the USA. Sally Timmel, realizing that middle class people in the USA, have the possibility of making choices, adapted the methodology, using Syd Simon‟s work on Value Judgments, for work with the middle classes in the USA in a program of Church Women United. This enabled thousands of members in nine different states to make recommendations on more just policies for national health care.
  2. Community Publishing. Kathy Bond Stewart initiated the African Community Publishing Programme in Zimbabwe. Local communities have helped to write and produce more than a dozen books on a wide range of topics which are constantly used in development programs all over the country.
  3. Leadership programs for local people seeking to restore the fabric of society and rebuild social cohesion after traumatic national experiences were developed by Enda Byrne, Jeremias Carvalho and Vero Schoeffel in Kosovo, Eastern Europe, and also in Rwanda by Juvenal Turatsinzi and Chrisserie Nyonsenga
  4. Maasai warriors were enabled to establish group ranches and prevent rich farmers taking over their land using TfT methods introduced by Danny Makanyani, Kenny Matampash and Peter Kisopia in Kenya. Wild-life management helped local residents to participate in decisions affecting nature reservations and to receive a more just share of the profits. Dyani Burgher intiated this work in Kenya.
  5. Rice farmers in Madagascar were empowered to improve the quality of their lives through a program started by Enda Byrne, Jeremias Carvalho and Vero Schoeffel.
  6. Intercultural Understanding programs were held for Swiss professionals preparing to work overseas by Veronique Schoeffel working with Cinquefor in Bienne.
  7. Thousands of women in the Angolan Catholic Women‟s Association benefitted from the input of Rosalia Saiacua and Teresinha Tavares.
  8. Many courses in gender analysis were run at the Vishtar ecumenical training Center and in the YWCA by Mercy Kappan and Latha Reddy in Bangalore, India.
  9. The WRC Development Institute for Women, which among other things helped to lobby for a new national constitution, was started in Nairobi by Adelina Mwau who was serving as a member of Parliament.
  10. Programmes involving both reflection and action on Women‟s Rights were started by Lean Chan in Malaysia and by Rhie Chol Soon in South Korea.
  11. Silveira House, a highly respected Jesuit development center in Zimbabwe, which has trained hundreds of community activists since it was formed in Zimbabwe in the 60‟s, has sent several of its staff to the TFT programme to work with their director of training, Sr Janice McLoughlin in their many active programmes for community transformation.

In these, and many other programs for social transformation, the soil has been watered and nourished with insights and skills gained through participation in the TfT River. Of course many other people, far too numerous to mention, have made major contributions to work inspired, mainly or partly by TfT, and many other organizations, all over the world, which have never heard of TfT are inspired by some or all of the same values, goals and principles on which the work of TfT is based. We welcome dialogue with all such groups and recognize the importance of networking with them.

By Anne Hope (updated)