OUR APPROACH TO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Economic - Social - Spiritual
Providing help to the broken and poor is deeply ingrained within many of us—whether we lay claim to Christian charity or other motivational factors. This motivation to help others, has resulted in trillions of dollars being poured into disenfranchised communities around the world, via relief organizations, federal programs, and faith-based organizations. There are many success stories and millions have received much needed aid and relief.
However, a distressing reality has become clear in the last several years: much of this aid has been ineffective and even counter-productive. Many researchers make the argument that the communities, countries, and even continents that have received the most aid, may have suffered more in the long run, than they would have without outside intervention. How is this possible? How has our motivation to “help” actually “hurt” those we intended to serve? Because all too often, our generosity creates a dependency that destroys personal initiative and self-sufficiency. Even by providing short-term relief, we may perpetuate a long-term problem. In the drought regions of the world, the resulting consequence is often disastrous and even fatal.
This reality is leading many organizations, including Jacob’s Well, to thoughtfully consider how we engage the local community in everything that we do. This process is often described as “community transformation” (a.k.a “community engagement” or “community development”) as opposed to more traditional “relief-only” approaches. This process does not eliminate relief work, but places it in its proper place: a short-term fix to immediate needs. The focus of community transformation, however, is ongoing and long term. It is relationship based and the community members are actively engaged in every aspect of development—from planning to implementation, and even evaluation of successes and defeats. It is through these relationships that the assets and strengths of the community become the focal point for long-term growth and improvement.
This transformational approach creates an environment where those being served, actually begin to believe in themselves and their worth. They begin to hope again. The expectation is that change occurs alongside their rich and traditional culture. In this way, we assist the individual and community in identifying their pre-existing strengths, in order to be who they were uniquely created to be.
This is what Jacob’s Well is about. We work with the people, local institutions, and communities, in order to allow transformation to evolve and sustain long term. We act as advisers, not rescuers, and we are absolutely committed to seeing the impacted communities thrive. Please join us in this amazing journey!