What makes Community Development?

Post a Comment » Written on March 3rd, 2014     
Filed under: Community Development
I have been learning about what makes a development project. A great example for me was one started by former covenant missionary Sharon Davis.

A good development project doesn’t rely on outsiders coming in and sustaining the project but works to encourage and train the local community members. These members then carry on the transformational work of development years after the “official program” has ended.

One such community member is Pastor George.

Pastor George is a Cameroonian farmer. He was raising about 25-30 chickens when Sharon Davis, a Covenant missionary, and Divine, an agricultural specialist working with Sharon, met him. Divine shared some insights on ways to improve his farm, and George took them to heart. Months later, he came to Sharon’s door and asked her to come and visit his farm. When she arrived, she was stunned. This was not the same chicken coup she had seen before. George had taken everything that Divine had recommended and completely transformed his farm. He could now raise 300-500 chicks.

Through George had made great improvements he needed more money to finish his farm. He asked Sharon for $900 to finish the project. He had created an itemized budget and laid out completely everything that we was planning to do, what kind of materials he needed, and how long the project would take. He wanted to demonstrate just how trustworthy and honorable he was.  Everything he did, he wanted to be accountable to someone for.

After a time, an assistant of Sharon Davis, Grace, went to visit George and was astonished by what he had accomplished with his $900 loan. He had helped train 15 women and was working with 250-300 chickens every 7 weeks. He was doing this with no outside capital and was continuing to expand the production. This is a huge success.

Sharon Davis is especially delighted because this project has become sustainable and will continue even when she is not in Cameroon. The important part she says is to take the “me” out of the center. I’m going home one day. I’m only here for a little while, this is home for them.

Though George came to Sharon Davis to learn about how to better raise chickens, he learned how to build up a community.  He is working with women and giving them fair prices for their goods. His latest project will set up feed store, buy feed and bark, for the whole subdivision of people not just a village. He is preaching, teaching, he is making disciples.

This project is more than just about chickening farming. It is about providing an opportunity to seek out something greater and believing that you can do it. It’s not about handouts, because Covenant World Relief first and foremost believes in transforming communities. Short term solutions are just that, short term. What happens when those solutions are no longer applicable? The majority of CWR resources and time are spent on long-term community development programs, like this one, which seek to bring about lasting change.


–Michyla Lindberg, CWR intern

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