Last week we discussed the notion that the goal of development should always be people rather than buildings, policies, procedures, etc. This begs the question, is it our environment or our thinking that most influences the outcome of our lives?
Just recently I was reading an article written by someone I knew several years ago. The article described this person’s efforts to deliberately try and reduce himself to a position of poverty (http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/reflections-of-a-man-who-sold-everything-and-gave-it-to-the-poor ). He basically gave away everything he owned right down to family heirlooms and his underwear. However, he failed miserably in his attempt to reduce himself to any sort of ongoing level of poverty or homelessness. His failure to do so I believe, makes a strong case for ‘thinking’ being more important than ‘environment’ when addressing issues of poverty.
Among other things this person was well educated, had significant work experience and enjoys a high level of social capital, and was therefore simply unable to remain in poverty for any length of time. Within a very short period he was back to the living standard he had previously enjoyed. Knowing this person previously, I am aware of the fact of what a well-rounded person he is intellectually, physically, emotionally and socially.
The point is this: despite a person’s circumstances and the conditions that may have caused their poverty, many remain in poverty not because of those conditions but because ‘development’ has effectively failed to assist them to build themselves in a holistic manner, spiritually, emotionally, socially and intellectually.
When we build the person we give them the opportunity to break their poverty. This is one of the keys behind the way Metamorphic has successfully engaged in development work across more than 20 countries over the last 12 years, and directly impacted more than 2300 communities.
You and I both know that it is not possible for one organisation, team or person to deliver this type of people-centered development on mass, which brings us to next week’s blog concerning leader-led development: ‘Develop the Leader and you Develop the Community’.