Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Creating opportunities for the very poor is not enough

If we want people to take responsibility for their own progress, we must first help them believe that they can. (from Nurturing Progress in Marginalized Communities at the Evolutionize It blog.)
I've had a series of conversations in recent months, with a group of displaced Burmese people who live at a garbage dump on the Thai side of the border with Myanmar, in Mae Sot. You can read about them at the new Pigletsforprogress website, which I've just set up to help launch a crowdfunding campaign that will buy the trash dump community families some piglets to raise, if successful. Details (and a bit of me) in the campaign video below:


Piglets were not my idea, and I've really not got the first clue about raising pigs, or whether they can really be successful as a poverty alleviation tool. More than half of families living there already raise pigs, so this is not a new idea coming in from outside. For me, the point is that the community came up with the idea because they feel confident that this is something beneficial which the community's families can do, with knowledge they already have.

Taking responsibility for one's own progress does not just come naturally, especially when families who've gone thru trauma are living in survival mode. The fear of what might go wrong for undocumented immigrants like those at the Mae Sot landfill is very valid, and serves as a powerfully discouraging force to try anything that might shake up the status quo and cause more disruption.


Experiencing baby steps toward trying and learning can remind people who are stuck just how good it feels to have hope for something. And how powerful they actually can be as agents of positive change in their lives.

So that's what I'm setting out to help them with, thru pigletsforprogress.org and a startsomegood campaign. Help out if you can, and check back now and again to see how the piglets and their hopeful new owners will be faring.