Beyond the Bus: Selecting the next Project!
Stemming from our 2011 community wide census report the community embraced ‘access to healthcare’ as their most important need. With this data collected, Project WOO then launched into full-on community organizer mode to engage the community further. The hardest, and most gratifying, part of WOO’s work is our insistence that the community members themselves be the catalysts for change. Most of our work is conducted through the vehicle of asking questions. For example: Hey community, the census data supports the fact that access to healthcare is your biggest need. What kind of projects would be helpful to you and your family in addressing that need? Let’s brainstorm. We, in practice, asked this question and 1000’s more to the community through two forums over the course of 2 months: 1) Focus groups – In order to maximize participation, we hit the streets with the goal of speaking to small groups of people bonded by demographics. One day we sat down with the women from the coast, the next with the farmers up near the school, then the fishing cooperatives. The focused groups were made up of smaller groups of peers. This strategy yielded greater group participation and enabled the participants to speak open and honestly. A community consensus was our objective. A project to benefit a certain community, ought to be the priority of those people, right? So I packed up my clipboards, whiteboards, and poster boards and hit the streets. After a series of 15 focused meetings, we were able to reach over 200 members of Gigante. Not only were we able to generate a variety of ideas from all demographics of the village, but the community acknowledged our efforts in reaching out to the masses. Without their support and respect, our development efforts would be futile. Through these focused meetings, the community collectively identified 14 potential project ideas. This was a great start, now to prioritize those ideas…. 2) Regional meetings – The goal of the regional meetings was to narrow the list from 14 proposed projects down to the most critical. As always, Project WOO engaged local leaders to facilitate these meetings. We were blessed to have 4 talented and passionate locals take the reins in this process. This group met frequently to develop a strategy for inspiring and engaging their family, friends and neighbors in this important community process. Before the scheduled regional meetings, our community leaders helped aggregate the results from the focused meetings, and narrow down the list of project ideas from 14 to 9. Below are the proposed projects that were presented to the regional meetings.
- Kitchen Chimney Project (for proper ventilation and a smoke free household)
- Ambulance (emergency vehicle)
- Community Center
- 1st aid trainings for community members
- Infrastructural Improvements of current medical conditions
- Woman’s cooperative
- Cyber café
- English school