Managing Scarce Resources Effectively

Managing Scarce Resources Effectively

As we work for community development around the world, we can see that some programs succeed and some fail. Often the difference comes with who is seeking for community change. If the local people come asking for training to improve their lives, the chance of success is great, and the programs are sustainable after the trainers have left. We say they are “pulling the rope.” But if we, as outsiders, come with our ideas and supply, the programs are unlikely to succeed, or continue on their own. We call this situation “trying to push the rope.” It doesn’t work well!

Through our CHE training programs, MAI’s master trainers patiently develop the skills of field facilitators to assist local communities in bringing their own ideas and plans to the table. This often requires a significant change of attitude and behavior. It is a core focus of the training, and facilitators are taught not to force their personal agendas on communities, no matter how good they think they are!

Therefore, communities where MAI works, experience a significant transformation that is sustainable and replicates to neighboring villages. Communities become empowered, feel valued, and continue to be innovative and responsible.

In areas where resources are scarce, we in MAI consider the poor to generally be the best managers of those resources, particularly when those resources belong to them.

They value these greatly and will use them to the maximum, without wasting anything. However, when they get handouts that they never sought, or saw the value in, they are more likely to waste them.

When faced with this situation, we as program development facilitators can be disappointed and even angry. We can forget that the fault lies with us for not checking if it was something we “pushed” on them, rather than a response to a genuinely felt need!

For this reason, MAI teams on the field interact closely with communities through participatory training in which we first sit and learn from the members of the community what they do to keep their “survival strategy” going. All our CHE lessons are geared to enable this to happen and to ensure that we are empowering communities without creating dependence. Even children in the village know this, and on one of my visits, proudly showed me a little pull cart that they had made. It had been made from a plastic jug that had sprung a leak and been discarded by adults. Without tools (but with a lot of imagination!) this little cart had been made and kept them entertained, as each of the “builders” waited patiently for his turn to play. Their ingenuity had empowered them and allowed their creative instincts to grow and blossom.

And yet, all that could have been easily destroyed, if we had as outside visitors, felt pity for them and given them a readymade plastic truck to play with!  It’s true. Sometimes, ill-thought-through help can hurt, and we could walk away, naively (with plenty of photos of smiling children) and think we made a difference. These are areas that our field-level facilitators hold very consciously as they work in the communities.

Medical Ambassadors International works hard to build and empower communities so they can effectively solve their own problems and flourish in a sustainable way.

We praise God for your faithful support to our ministry. The funding you provide helps us to continue our training programs, and our follow up facilitation of ongoing work across the world. As a supporter of our ministry, you too are a partner with us in the ministry. I hope you feel encouraged to see the impact you are having in healing lives and transforming communities.

The Apostle Paul admonished Timothy saying, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2b) Our field leaders continue to invest in the lives of the community so that they can pass on their learning to others.