In the previous parts of this series, we discovered what development is, what it is not, and why it is a role of the Church.
You might be wondering, what are some practical steps I can take towards development in my community?
These four steps will help you to begin.
1. Listen to the community
• This step is the all-important 1st step. If we skip this step, our hard work will be in vain. We need to learn to listen to our communities. We do this by asking questions and coming without prejudgment of what the people need. So many development projects worldwide have resulted from what someone else thought a community required. But to truly empower people and remove limitations, we must learn what they think they need.
2. Identify root causes
• Once we’ve listened to the community and discovered needs, we go deeper and find the root cause. We don’t want to put all our hard work into treating superficial symptoms of a deeper issue. For example, a community may have problems with alcoholism, HIV, depression, and lack of food. These may seem unrelated, but the root cause of all of these may be unemployment. In that case, unemployment would have to be the focus of our efforts for a solution.
3. Identify community assets
• Our communities have assets. So often, outside help seems like the better option. Sometimes, this may be appropriate – for example, disaster relief. But to see development and transformation, we need to realise that communities have all they need within themselves. Having our eyes open to this helps us identify which assets are available. We can even turn thought liabilities into assets. For example, if many youths are hanging around and causing trouble as they have nothing to do, we could empower and release them to use their energy and time to benefit others rather than hinder them.
4. Create trust and ownership
• This last step doesn’t necessarily have to be applied as a step. Instead, it should be a result of doing the things above. People will trust us when we listen to, empower, and release them. When involved in the whole development process, they will have ownership and want to see the work to completion. This last step is a checkpoint. Does the community trust me? Do they feel ownership? If not, go back to step one.
Which step do you need to take next?