'العربية / al-ʿarabīyah
CHALLENGING THE COMMUNITY
Resistance Produces Strength
by Phil Bartle, PhD
While you want the community to develop strength, you do not passively and automatically accept at first what appears to be the community's priority goal
Resistance produces strength; your arm muscles become strong when you do push-ups.
If your muscles never meet resistance, they will grow weak. If you do too much for a community, it will not become stronger.
The first suggestion of a priority by the community might not be well thought out, and if you challenge it, they may think more carefully about what action they would take.
Let us look at a hypothetical example. Perhaps the community members say that their priority goal is to build a clinic.
"Fair enough," you reply, "But what is your reasoning behind that choice of goal?" "Does the community have the capacity to build and maintain a clinic?" "What problems will the clinic solve? And what problems will it cause?"
Strengthen them by letting them defend their choice.
If it turns out that community members want a clinic because a rival community down the road has one, that their main motivation is pride, then you can clarify that.
"Remember that it is your own resources that will go into building it; is that really how you want to spend your money?" you say.
Perhaps it then comes out that babies are dying, and that is their primary concern.
Here is your opportunity to point out an important principle of PHC, that prevention is much better than cure.
Children are dying mainly from diarrhoea caused by water borne diseases. See Water.
A clinic may help in curing disease, but it is more humane, cheaper, and less risky to reduce water borne disease by a combination of three things: (1) hygiene education leading to behaviour change, (2) a clean potable water supply, and (3) effective sanitation that keeps human wastes away from the drinking water. Prevention instead of cure.
By being challenged to analyse its problems and search for practical and feasible solutions, the community may respond by re-examining its priority problems and re-defining its priority goals.
Do not passively accept their first choice of goal.
© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle