What we're learning and how it's impacting our work
‘International development’ has a messy history. One of hope and despair. Success and failure. Triumph and tragedy. It’s made huge advancements, with diseases eradicated and poverty reduced. But it’s caused harm too, often due to its habit of naming a community's 'problems', and then getting outsiders to try and solve them - an effort that often ends when budgets run dry or priorities change. Our members tell stories of how this has defined local people as incapable, diminished their prior achievements, and discouraged their future initiative. And when it does this, it can leave a community worse off than it was before.
That’s why groups like us are starting to flip this approach on its head. We're celebrating local strengths rather than pinpointing weaknesses. And we're recognising that we all have something to offer, and so development need no longer be about 'donors & beneficiaries', 'haves & have-nots', or 'us & them'. In Arukah Network, there's only 'us'.
We're celebrating local strengths rather than pinpointing weaknesses.
The role of the outsider is not to throw cash at a problem or to issue orders
When development starts with community members coming together, taking stock of their own knowledge and skills, and using these to pursue shared goals, then it can build stronger relationships, forge better leaders, kindle an entrepreneurial spirit, and ultimately improve the health, wellbeing and future of a whole community.
In this way of working, the role of those from outside of a community is not to throw cash at a problem, or issue orders, or decide goals and priorities. Instead, we think it's more about connecting people, creating space for critical thinking and sometimes-difficult dialogue, amplifying solutions and voices, and offering to help fill gaps in training and skill when invited to do so.
HOW WE WORK
Our network helps to launch and nurture local groups of people who work collaboratively to serve their communities. We call these groups ‘Clusters’. In each Cluster, members work to build relationships, support one another, share in training and form partnerships. The aim is to increase the health, wellbeing and happiness of our communities, and ultimately, to inspire wider systems and social change. Or as we call it, 'Arukah'.
As a network, we meet together locally, internationally and online, to learn and support one another as we serve our communities. We gather and share our network's expertise and wisdom, so that communities can solve complex challenges. And we amplify community voices, so their wisdom is understood and acted upon by policy makers.
We support community leaders and role models to help further their ideas, build their networks, coach and mentor them. In return, they nurture their Cluster, lead their communities & work for change.
A Cluster at the heart of a community can provide a place of support, advice, referrals and inspiration. A Cluster's internal training and external events try to show a new way to work and collaborate.
We connect online and in person to share wisdom, support and training. We aim to show that networking and globalisation are forces for good when rooted in relationship and empathy. We try to model the collaboration that is key to the UN SDGs.