Community Development Training
07.12.2018 28 °C
Last week, I was part of a 3-day training in community development provided by Baptist missionaries from the US. I have always liked the concept of ‘community development’ and especially the idea of transformational development where wholistic positive change takes place in peoples’ lives. I figured the training could help give me more ideas for the work I am trying to do in Arua.
I found the course very helpful in providing some practical skills in how to understand and ask questions about a community and how it is doing. As well as other tools, the trainers described the Problem Tree, Vision mapping and Resource analysis.
To look at these tools, we often split into groups to think about them practically over the few days we had together. I was in a group of mainly Ugandans which helped me really understand the issues on the ground.
The Problem Tree helps a community look at one problem and consider the causes and effects - or the roots and the fruits of the problem. As a group, we looked at the problem of drugs and alcohol, a big issue for the community. Here is a look at our problem tree.
As we discussed the issue of drug and alcohol use, I felt a greater and greater sense of heaviness and sadness. There are so many problems in the communities we live amongst. Material poverty, family instability, lack of jobs, mental health problems, trauma and other causes increase the risk of drug and alcohol abuse. The effects are sicknesses, early death, child neglect, increased hopelessness, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy amongst others.
As we discussed these problems and went into the field to speak to groups of people, it is hard not to be overwhelmed.
One of the participants in the training talked of a ‘depressed society’ where so many people are struggling with many burdens. There is a hopelessness and heaviness that hangs over many people.
Working in the society where there are so many problems, we also start to take on a sense of hopelessness and burden. It is known that there is a risk for workers in difficult situations to get burn-out and to take on the similar poverty mindset that keeps people trapped in their own mindsets.
As ‘change agents’ in this society, we need to keep ourselves healthy to bring the vision of hope and inspiration for a people in great need.
Ironically, one way we are reminded of Christmas in Arua is because of the increase in insecurity as people feel the pressure to buy meat or chicken and new clothes for their families. This week this has brought us an armed robbery, a revenge killing and a police crackdown with gun battles in the forest. However, we believe that Jesus came to bring light to darkest places. As Isaiah says,
'The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.’
Community Development is about change for the better, something we all long for! I hope that we all get encouraged by the Christmas story of hope despite all the darkness and discouragement around!