If I ever have kids, I won’t try to impress people by how soon my kid reads or how far they can hit a baseball. By the time my son gets to be 3, I want him mowing the lawn and painting the house. Grown man, grown responsibilities.
Isn’t it true, though? Parents love to encourage their kids to do more and be more as soon as possible. Parents are always bragging about their kids and what they can do. No parent excitedly says, “Guess what!? My kid is 8 and STILL doesn’t know how to walk! I carry him around everywhere!”
But when it comes to working with the poor, this is often what happens. The wealthy spoon feed and carry them for a really long time.
There are times where spoon feeding is appropriate. When someone breaks their arms, they sometimes need help eating and doing certain things. But once they heal up, they’re back to eating on their own.
Communities affected by disasters (e.g. hurricanes) and other situations where an event “breaks their arms,” usually need some spoon feeding for a period of time. But eventually that community heals up to the point they can do things on their own.
In situations where communities have NOT been impacted by a disaster but are continually languishing in poverty, the first step is to establish what they actually believe about themselves and the world.
The poor typically feel powerless. And it makes sense they’d feel that way. If they had power, they would get themselves out of poverty. So poor people often have a very low view of themselves. They also feel like they can’t control very much.
In order to establish how the community views themselves and how they view the issues in their community, you can conduct a Worldview Analysis using the Ten Seed Technique.
First, you discuss with the people what assets are in the community – knowledge, skills, natural resources, geographical advantages, etc. At this point, the people are now thinking about all the things that are RIGHT in their community – not just what’s wrong.
Second, you ask the people what the major issues are that affect their community. You then plot these on a diagram that looks like this…
You’re asking yourself right now, “What are the rings about?” Remember yesterday when we talked about The Three Controllers of a Community’s Destiny? A community can change…
- From inside by community members
- From outside by advisors and friends
- From God/nature
So the rings each represent one of those controllers….
The people then get 10 seeds for each major issue in the community and they can distribute them to each of the three controllers (what they control, what outsiders could help them control, and what God/nature controls). An example using one issue might look like this…
You can see in the example, that 20% of the problem (2 out of the 10 seeds) could be controlled by the community (inside ring), 50% could be helped by outsiders (middle ring), and 30% is up to God/nature (outside ring).
This process allows you to find out how the community understands THEMSELVES. Before they place the seeds, they have discussion about the problem and you simply listen to them reason out their existence. You hear what they can control and where their speed bumps are. Since they use actual seeds for this exercise, they can easily move them as the discussion progresses. When the analysis is over, you draw the seeds onto the chart.
So let’s look at an example from real life! Here’s a picture of the Leadership Council in Camp Marie, Haiti…
After much discussion, their Worldview Analysis currently looks like this…
The circled numbers in red are the order of importance that they place on each issue. What you’ll see that’s very interesting is how many seeds are in the very inner circle – this is what they believe they can control on their own. For them to understand exactly what it is they control in their community is a huge deal.
We want them to stand on their own. We want them to be empowered. Truly empowered. That is, we want the people to increasingly gain a sense of power over their problems. I have rarely met a dumb poor person. They might be uneducated, but the knowledge they have is significant. When they start realizing this, the mood of a community changes and they want to get to work and start saving money for their dreams.
Before I close, I want to mention that I’ve been in Haiti this week with an organization called 410 Bridge. They’re 100% legit and if you’re looking to do work in Haiti, I highly recommend them!
If you want to know more about these topics, you can read some white papers on them here:
Ten Seed Technique
Holistic Worldview Analysis