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Our work is always geared to creating self-sustaining societies. Community empowerment to us means connecting communities to their resources, ensure that they utilize them and take responsive actions to enhance their social, economic and human development. This cannot happen by just tapping a finger, it is gradual, it is messy and it is progressive. The whole point of transformation is sensitive and fragile especially when working with vulnerable communities. One thing I believe and can be true is that vulnerability comes with sensitivity. A case example is when a human being goes through a traumatic experience; post trauma this individual tends to be more triggered or reactive to occurrences that remind him or her of the past experience. I understand that this is an extreme case but it still applies to community development. Community development as a subject is not new; it has only evolved over time.
As non-profits our call is to serve, lead, guide and advice since our hearts are for these vulnerable communities. The communities on the other hand are to identify their needs, prioritize them and give their own solutions to these problems. The roles of these two stakeholders are dependent and therefore cooperation is not in question here, it is a must. It goes without saying that in order to solve these needs there must be funds committed towards the various courses. Just a reminder that our overall goal is to ensure we create self-sustaining communities/ societies. Community dynamics differ in various ways but there is a constant weed that is always growing.
A little background check when getting to a community; the introductory stage. This is often through the administration, the church, the community leadership, community groups among others avenues. In most cases, only one avenue is used at the point of entry/ introduction to the whole community. The rest are still part and parcel of the overall agenda hence the name stakeholders. We need to deeply understand the amount of power and influence that these stakeholders hold. They have the ability to rally their people behind them, lead them to a certain direction and even influence some of the major decision to be made concerning a project or program.
Remember the weed that has been constant and consistent; I call it community propaganda/politics. In summary, "let us have our stake, we are stakeholders." This is an illusion or feeling that non-profits often have to deal with to ensure the success implementation and overall sustainability. The entitlement comes in when one feels that they are the reason (their vulnerability) is what has brought the resources to the community and therefore they deserve a cut. One thing they forget is that the resources are towards a common community need with certain goals to be attained and not give individual stakes. As a non-profit, we have learnt to set boundaries since we have to deliver and do it effectively and efficiently.