In our community development course, we talk about asset-based community-driven development. Within this course, we explore how to best work with communities and their members to produce lasting change. As outsiders to a community, we may think we know the best way to help them, but we do not have the history, background, and knowledge the members of the community do. We must ensure they are the ones driving and determining what happens to their community.
One of our trainees, Babacar, recently shared how he put this into practice while working with his organization, Bambey Serer Initiatives, in Senegal:
“We went to meet representatives from a nearby village who are pastoralists. On their land, they have a borehole and land around 5 kilometers that has not yet been explored. We presented them with the support our project offers to communities, and they had difficulty making a choice of how we could best support them. I thought about the “bottom-up” approach we learned about in the Cultivate Community Development Course. Thanks to this approach, I instead asked them to consult with the other members of the community who were involved and asked them to discuss the best solution before coming back to us for a concrete proposal. This way, they may find how we can support them in the most effective way according to the realities of their environment.”
Even though Babacar is from a nearby community, he is learning that placing the decisions into the hands of the local community members will allow them to determine what is best. However, he is still there to support the community in their decision and offer whatever help he and his organization can give when they do determine their next steps!
When we see our trainees growing and learning from our program, we are so inspired and encouraged to continue in the work of empowering community leaders. This what Cultivate is all about.