People would be familiar with how easy it is for the urgent to mean that the important sometimes does not get done. Registering cases in court, counselling distressed people, interpreting and filling orders, preparing training programs, assisting with the running of a cooperative, overseeing the building of our new home….all these things have meant that keeping records have taken a back seat. But we know that keeping good records about our service, where our ladies come from, how many we see each year, what services we provide, how women hear about us etc is really important for future planning and perhaps, for funding.
Keeping good records in busy times requires a good system. It requires a good talk about what is important to know and what are realistic expectations about record keeping. In the evenings over the last few weeks, two of us have been working on an easy system to record useful information and a form for recording the main points of an initial contact in way that is helpful to us and empowering for each woman involved.
We drafted some forms and using them has already been very helpful. Kopila has reported that having a place on the interview form where the woman signs under an agreement about what action she is to take and what action we are to take, has given both parties a sense of ownership…a sense of working together rather than merely Samunnat doing something FOR them in a way that reinforces beliefs they may have about their lack of power. Using this form has empowered them and helped them to see what changes they can make and where Samunat helps.
Having a register of all contacts, not just the women who had cases registered in court, has already given us a much more accurate picture about where our ladies come from, who refers those who are referred, what services we have provided, where the sources of violence have been. In two weeks, one quarter of the figure of registered cases punted at for a year, came through our door! Not all the women we see want to register a case for compensation or divorce. Some want to press charges against family members who abuse them but need to get into a more secure situation first. With nothing like safety houses available here, this can take time. Others elect to endure dreadful situations to protect other family members or to ensure children, particularly girls, have access to ongoing education. While they wait, they come to Samunnat for support and encouragement. Our new register helps us to know what services are most requested.
We have no fascinating photos of our register but here’s the place we bought our mithai, sweets, to celebrate a week of hard work.