Part 1 – Making practical plans for your workshop

This workshop is different because:
  • The main ideas are covered in half a day so Nobody loses too much time.
  • The costs are very low.
  • The ideas are explained in simple ways which people of all ages and backgrounds quickly understand.
  • Most people go home feeling excited and ready to start making Memory Books for their families.


  • In communities where many children feel lost and sad, here is a practical way for relatives or community members to do something to help them understand who they are and make sense of their world.
  • The end of the workshop is not “The End” because the group or community is left with a workshop plan which is easy to follow. This makes it possible for them to share the ideas with other people in their area.
  • This website includes:
    • full details of the workshop together with useful worksheets and ideas about how to involve children in making Memory Books.
    • a link to a short film which shows parents and children working together on their books.
    • words of Memory Book for Africa in English and six Ugandan languages.
  • All the information on is free for anyone to read or print out if they have use of a computer (or can get help from a friend or go to an internet cafe.)
  • People who want more detailed information can look at the original website: This includes:
    • ideas on how to get talking with children about difficult family matters;
    • making plans for future care of children;
    • legal matters including making a will
    • and much more.

Before you decide if you want to set up a workshop please read the practical information in the boxes below….

What is the Memory Book?

drawing of father in hospital

  • In more settled times information about the family and the history and traditions of clans and tribes was passed on orally by the elders to their children and grandchildren. But increasing numbers of parents and children get split up because of fighting, drought and migration to find work as well as family breakdown, illness and death. This means that every community has its share of orphaned or separated children who urgently need help to hold on to their sense of identity.
  • They read this and have the information so they can find their way in the world.
  • So new ways are needed to help keep their family stories alive.
  • The Memory Book is one way. We know it has helped many children to understand the past and cope better in the future.
  • The Memory Book is a place for parents or carers to save important family information including their beliefs and values which they want to pass on to their children and future generations.

illustration of memory basket

  • Some families also make a Memory Box or Memory Basket to save small reminders of the family members and their home.
  • Some parents or carers work on their books with their children. This way all the awkward questions and secrets are dealt with “on the go”.
  • Other parents are writing for very young children who they fear they will not see through to independence.
  • Every book is different – there is no right or wrong way.

Why do it?

  • It gives a voice to grandparents and other senior relatives who know the family history and how things used to be. its a way of keeping local traditions and beliefs alive.
  • In communities where many orphans and vulnerable children are being looked after by grandparents, foster parents or neighbours, these children need to talk about their past past before their memories fade. Talking openly and making Memory Books together is a good way to help these children KNOW WHO THEY ARE.
  • All children who have a Memory Book will have a better chance to grow up with a strong sense of identity.

African aunt and child talking about the family

  • If parents or grandparents write the pages in their own first language, it will give children a reason to understand and value that language – which is part of their heritage.
  • As well as these good reasons, most people really enjoy making their Memory Book because its not just writing about problems and losses which are part of life for most families. It also gives them a chance to remember good times and achievements and a place to write about their values, beliefs and hopes for the future. These are the important things that they want their children to know.

Who is the workshop for?

  • Think about the people who need the information most. These will be parents, grandparents, carers and anyone else in your community who is in touch with vulnerable children. This could include teachers, religious leaders, nurses and community leaders.
    memory book page  by a father showing a church - Suubi workshop
    Memories of the village
  • Look out for people who will learn for themselves then “spread the word.”  This way the ideas from your workshop will be shared with others in your community and beyond.
  • How many people in a group? You want everyone to be able to join in. So 12 – 20 people is about right.
  • Ages and backgrounds of Group members. The important thing is to make the workshop friendly and welcoming so everyone can feel included. For some people this may be their first time at a workshop and they may be very shy. So its important to have a mix of experience so people can learn from each other. But at the same time making sure that the quiet people are respected and encouraged to join in.
  • Simple information works best. Its the workshop leader’s job to keep information at a level that everyone can understand and keep up.
  • Not everyone can read or write easily. So be prepared with a tactful volunteer to help anyone who is struggling to make notes or to join in with activities which need writing.
  • Languages.
    The Memory Book is now written in Acholi, Ateso, English, KiSwahili, Lugandan, Lusoga and Runyankore.

    The Memory Book is currently available in six Ugandan languages. If your workshop is in an area where one of these languages is spoken, you have a wonderful opportunity to help people to work in their first language.But be ready with someone who can translate into English or another local language if needed.

Practical things to think about before you start.

  • Look for other people who are keen to put on the workshop and agree to do some “homework” together. This way you all know what is involved before you start. For example:
    • Watch the 10″ video – link on
    • Read the text of the Memory Book for Africa
    • Read through the WORKSHOP OUTLINE in Part 2.
  • Decide who will take the lead. Then share out the support tasks (including someone who can translate; someone who can help people who have difficulty with writing; someone who can support anyone who is distressed or unwell.)
  • Decide if the workshop will be open to anyone who wants to join in – or will you focus on a particular group? (grandmothers? community leaders? Fathers?)
  • Think about a good place to hold the workshop (see checklist below.)
  • Work out what materials you will need (checklist below) and who will organise or make these materials.
  • Think about the money. Although this plan is for a short and simple workshop, there will still be costs. (see checklist below)
  • It’s essential to be sure you can cover the costs before you get going!

Who can be a workshop leader?

When you are putting on a short and simple workshop, you don’t need to be a psychologist or social worker to be an effective workshop leader. But you do need:

  • A lot of common sense,
  • Practical experience with children and adolescents,
  • Confidence in talking about sensitive subjects
  • A way of being warm and supportive towards parents who may be very worried about opening up to their children and coping with difficult questions.
  • It helps to have experience (or find out about) some of the topics which are covered in the other website, crawling For example, learning the basics about child development and what children need and understand at different stages. This will help to answer parents’ questions about what and when to talk with their children about family problems, sex and relationships, marriage, birth, illness and death and other subjects which are taboo in many families
  • It’s important not to be too shy to talk about these sensitive subjects. In fact its impossible to avoid them if parents are going to be helped to write an honest Memory Book about family life.


  • You will be better at helping other parents if you ask yourself how you would reply if a young person asked you difficult questions. You might have to admit that you don’t always know the answers – and its important to reassure other parents that its o.k. to tell your child when you don’t know the answer – but you will try to find out.
    At least this gives parents time to think!
  • Making your own Memory Book before you get involved in running the workshop will help you to understand how emotional and frightening it can be – and you will be all the better prepared to help other parents.

Important information for workshop leaders.

When parents get started on their Memory Books, many of them realise its urgent to start talking with their children about subjects that they have never discussed openly before.  For instance, in many families questions will come up about the cause of death of the other parent, HIV diagnosis, transmission and then, inevitably, questions follow about sexual development and behaviour, relationships and pregnancy.

In other families there will be questions about why the family has broken up, why some brothers and sisters have different fathers, why the family has moved away from extended family.

Workshop leaders and parents can find out about organisations, like Alert which provide useful information. You can find some ideas in the HELP section of this website. Get some help.

Finding a good place to hold the workshop.

Here are some things you will need:

  • A quiet, safe place where the group won’t be overheard or interrupted.
  • Shade or roof cover.
  • Mats or chairs for seating.
  • Good toilets/latrines and access to water.
  • Place to serve refreshments/drinking water.
  • Time-out space for anyone who feels ill or emotional.
  • Enough space indoors or outside to work in 4 small groups.
  • Place to display posters and materials made during the workshop.

What materials will you need?

  • Laptop or video player to show the short film + power supply.
  • Flip chart paper (3 sheets for each small group of 4 people)
  • Copies of the page headings which you decide to use in the workshop. (Because of limited time it wont be possible to cover all the headings given in The Memory Book for Africa.
    memory book page headings

    But each small group will be able to work on 3 of the headings that you have chosen. The work they do together will form their part of the “model” Memory Book when all the “pages” are put together for the whole group at the end. (this is explained in full in Part 2.)

  • Blue tack or pins to put up finished “pages.”
  • Couple of spare notebooks and pens in case anyone forgets!
  • Large felt tip pens or markers for workshop leader’s use + a red & a black marker for each small group.(to be returned at the end!)
  • Scissors and glue to be shared around the small groups
  • Some pictures of babies and children and family scenes, cut out of newspapers or magazines which small groups can use to “illustrate” their work in the workshop.
    newspapercutting with picture of nine year olf
  • Copy of Memory Book for Africa for each workshop member. IF this is too expensive, prepare one copy on strong paper and put it in a ring folder so that it can be passed around in the workshop (and also available to borrow later by anyone who wants to read it all the way through.)
  • BEFORE printing the Memory Book pages, please check to see if it is available in the language spoken in your area. We have Acholi, Ateso, English, Luganda, Lusoga, KiSwahili and Runyankore translations.
  • If you can’t supply full copies of Memory Book for Africa, it’s important to provide the following for each person:
    map, mango family tree illustrations
    • copies of page headings
    • Uganda map
    • Family tree and Mango Tree outlines
    • Who Am I question sheets.
  • AND DONT FORGET … to have couple of boxes of tissues ready. The workshop can arouse painful issues.

Working out a budget.

  • Find out the cost of getting paperwork printed or photocopied. (see above for list of paperwork needed by each workshop member.)
  • Get prices for flip chart paper or sheets of newsprint, felt tip pens, notebooks etc. (see above for list of materials you will need on the day.)
  • If you plan to offer refreshments – what will they be and what will they cost?
  • Will you need to pay for a meeting place – or will a church or school lend space free of charge?
  • will you need to pay to hire a laptop or projector to show the film?
  • Work out what the total cost is likely to be. Dont just guess!!

How to cover the costs.

  • Can local people produce refreshments at low cost? Or can people who come to the workshop bring some food to share?
  • Can people who come to the workshop make a small contribution?
  • Is there any organisation, church or office in the community which could help in cash or kind. (for example a local business who will do free or cheap photocopying?)
  • Is there any welfare organisation or charity working in your area who you could ask for contribution in cash Or in kind? (for example providing a place for the event? or loan of projector or laptop for the film?)
  • Ask your LC1 members or other community leaders for ideas on how to cover costs.

If you are now ready we can move on to Part 2 – Running the The Memory Project Workshop