Stay focused when a community comes first

Every development program has the ultimate goal of community development in terms of well-being. Nowadays, it is challenging to mobilize the community for development programs. Though it’s human nature, we are too complacent for change. To be successful in achieving the ultimate goal, the essential requirements are to mobilize the people and to develop the sense of belongingness with development programs. Below are some of the crucial points to keep in mind which help in accomplishing these requirements:

  1. Understand your community – Every community has a rich cultural and social heritage which lies in their customs and social behavior. Before intervening or interacting with the community, the knowledge of their social structure and understanding of their culture are essential. These will help you gel with them and develop a positive rapport.
  2. Develop rapport – This is the most critical strategy which starts from understanding their socio-economic structure and culture. The interaction should establish your faith and trust in them in order to gain theirs. In my personal experience, when I go on community interaction, I ask for drinking water from some household and drink their water. This strategy always works to win their trust. I found that this is useful as people perceive you as part of the community. For them, you are not an outsider anymore when you accept their food and other offerings.
  3. Avoid your comfort zone and be like them – Always remember that you are an outsider. They perceive you as a threat or the unwanted person who is just doing your job. Winning their trust and belief is vital for you to convince them that you are not there to merely accomplish your daily task. On the other hand, by immersing yourself, you can learn more about their problems and possible available resources and solutions from their perspective.
  4. Focus on developing a relationship, not on just doing your job – A trustful and robust connection with the community can put you in a win-win situation. It makes your work easy. It is hard but not impossible to make them believe that you are there to create change for their betterment.
  5. Be neutral and safe – Most of the time, the community is divided based on caste, creed, and other social and economic factors. My advice, while working with the community, is to gain the faith and trust of every segment of the community. You may find yourself in danger if they see you biased to some segments.

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Written by Rinku Verma, a student of Masters in Development Management in Asian Institute of Management. He is an Indian.

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