The Good Guys…

“When you come into a community that is vulnerable with professionals with power and preset ideas, it is overpowering to families and it can hold them back,” he said. “Nobody wants to hear that because we’re all the good guys. But the focus on need undermines our ability to see their strengths — and their ability to see their own strengths.”

Check out this article and read more about the guy who said this, Lim Miller who set up a really interesting program in the US where “poor” families help each other.   Why is it that the most innovative, and potentially effective, development work is usually domestic?  And by that I mean domestic African, American or European.  I’ll tell you why:  because it usually involves people helping
themselves or others just like them.  So there is a level of understanding, intuition, and empathy (not sympathy) that drives it.  Three qualities largely absent from international development work driven by those “professionals with power and preset ideas” that Lim refers to.

How long is it going to take before international aid accepts that big money, supply-side development just might not be the way forward? That enabling people to utilize their strengths is far more valuable than employing hundreds of people with masters degrees to address their weaknesses. That maybe we’re not such good guys after all.

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