How-matters.org’s Friday feature! Sharing three poems by Simric Yarrow
What is the transformation that occurs when people discover the strength of their voice and have space, or the opportunity to use that voice, and engage with those in power?
When I first picked up and started reading The Barefoot Guide to Working with Organisations and Social Change almost four years ago, it was one of those strike-you-through-the-heart moments. Finally someone was talking about my role in aid.
Organizational development is a discipline that needs to become more central to the practice of the development sector as a whole, not just a small professional enclave.
A local sovereign organisation is an authentic expression of the will and voice of its own constituents. While it may accept funding to provide services, it is not a surrogate vehicle for the projects of another agency’s purpose.
Sovereignty is both a quality to be developed and a right to be respected and defended. It is a particularly powerful concept when applied to organisation, suggesting authentic qualities, describing a home-grown resilience, an inside-out identity, the idea of an organisation being the expression of the free will of its own constituents.
Work on the ground can often be difficult, slow, and heartbreaking, however rewarding. Sometimes the most important thing we can do is to show “care for the caregivers” (both physically and emotionally) to reduce stress and prevent burnout.
Under-resourced and under-recognized local organizations face immense challenges on the ground. Yet we as outsiders most often choose to express frustration or impatience if an organization does not appear to be responding to our expectations.
As resourced outsiders, when we meet with suffering people, we create high expectations, in them and in ourselves. Or we feel completely helpless in not being able to offer enough and in so doing may even reinforce feelings of hopelessness.
The fact that people, under the direst of circumstances, are able to pull themselves together and organize themselves is a celebration of the fact that the impulse to develop and organize is inborn.