Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Giving Ownership Helps People Solve Their Own Problems

In my post,  Monuments to Philanthropic Ignorance I proposed the problem of philanthropists leaving monuments to themselves or to their ignorance of the needs of the people that they were trying to help.
I included the picture of the Torgee Bridge.

Torgee bridge in need of serious work. It took about a dozen people to lift the cart up onto the bridge and that many more to push it up the steep incline on the other side.
The bridge was built with good intentions but the local people didn't feel ownership of it and didn't maintain it. The approach to the bridge deteriorated to make crossing it very difficult. Instead of fixing the problem they just lived with it hoping that the builders of the bridge would eventually come and fix it. They did not feel ownership of the bridge so they were not empowered to fix the bridge on their own.

Then came Brent Keller and Lloyd Ward. They met with the village leaders, told them that the bridge was theirs to care for and use. Then they gathered shovels, hammers, hand drills, and other equipment to fix the bridge.
The children posing on the new bridge approach that their fathers and brothers improved
With the encouragement of Brent and Lloyd the local people carried rocks from the river for a base, then covered the rocks with dirt to make a smooth path.
Travelers can easily cross the bridge thanks to the teamwork of the local villagers and a couple of  "Farenge"
On the other side they chipped away at the steep rock and made a much better approach.
Now the villagers are proud of their bridge and they can take care of it themselves.
What Brent and Lloyd gave was not a lot of money or time but it was a gift that will last. They taught the villagers ownership which allowed them to solve their own problems. They changed from dependent individuals to an empowered team. Now it is up to them to carry this forward and teach others.

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