Project WOO believes that the only way to achieve sustainable community development is through a combination of local participation, practical use of resources, and pointed technical training. As such, we exemplify leadership in our partner villages where we provide people with the skills and resources they need to get organized, identify the needs within their community, and implement programs that address those needs. In short, we work to empower people to actively change their communities according to their shared vision for the future.
While many organizations are committed to helping people living in impoverished regions, their approach is usually reactionary in nature. They see a problem and try to fix it on the surface level. For example, if someone sees excessive litter, they may donate trash cans. If health workers witness rampant malaria, they give away mosquito nets. If there are people in need, they receive donations of clothes and food. While these efforts are truly commendable, they actually fall short of addressing the root causes of these problems. When the trash cans are stolen or go unused, or when the mosquito nets tear, or when the donated food runs out, the townspeople find themselves back in their original predicament with the same problems. Therefore the only change that this method produces is increased dependency on outsiders to provide trash cans, mosquito nets and food. Our goal is break the cycle of dependence.
Project Wave of Optimism was not established to simply give things to people. Rather, Project WOO was created as a vehicle for true social change. By investing our time, energy and resources at the grassroots level of local community leadership, we seek to empower individuals to dig deep and find creative solutions at the root of the problems. We might conduct environmental education campaigns and work with leaders and community members to keep trash off the streets. We would work with local health officials to eradicate mosquito breeding sites and allow community members to purchase mosquito nets at discounted prices after attending anti-malaria seminars. Or we could provide micro-loans that would help people start their own businesses to increase family income and decrease dependency on handouts.
The beauty of what we do is that we support our partner communities in whatever programs or projects they decide are most important. Undertaking a task of this size requires a deep understanding of the development process, community organizing skills, fluency in the local language, cultural understanding, patience, and a strong belief in people. Project Wave of Optimism is up to this challenge. Right now we are working to support individuals in our partner communities as they strive to break free from dependence and re-create themselves as agents of positive change.