Recently I have been meeting with a small collective of passionate Asset Based Community Development Practitioners from World Vision, Compassion, TEAR Australia, Uniting Communities, Tabor College and the Churches of Christ in SA & NT.
One of the purposes of this gathering has been to get some of the stories of where good asset based community development is already happening.
To that end each of these practitioners has agreed to share at least one story from their own organisation/work here on this blog so we can begin to collect a bit of a storybook.
Today’s story comes to you curtsey of my good friend Simon Duke who is the Church Partnerships Manager SA at World Vision Australia
The following is shared with permission.
Marina’s Story- When limitations become opportunities
Marina sharing how World Vision projects have changed her life at a World Vision press conference in Romania.
Marina, 21, has never had an easy life. She grew up in a village in southern Romania, where children often become prisoners of a painful routine of survival—fighting poverty daily and letting education take second place. When she was 8 years old, she became part of World Vision’s sponsorship programme. Prior to her engagement with the program Marina remembers that,
“School was merely routine, we couldn’t understand the use of education.”
For many children, it seemed as if their fates were sealed with their birth as they would spend their time helping their parents with household activities or working the field for daily survival.
“We only knew what we had, what we saw, and what the village was offering us. [We didn’t have] any opportunity to see beyond its boundaries,” adds Marina.
Thanks to the sponsorship programme, she also went on a trip for the first time, participated in competitions, felt the emotion of winning prizes, and learnt about technology by attending computer classes.
“World Vision opened new horizons for us,” she remembers.”They gave us the opportunity to see further than the universe of our village, to meet new people, and to develop ourselves. Our expectations about everything have become greater [as a result],”she says, smiling with confidence.
Marina’s involvement and devotion for studying were increasingly obvious. She passed the entrance exams at a good high school in town and which she was able to attend on a part scholarship with World Vision.
In addition to her financial difficulties, life as a student in the town brought Marina more concerns. Coming from the village, she was afraid to be seen as different by her schoolmates. It was difficult for her to socialise with the other students and integrate with other students.
Marina went to camps and meetings for personal development with other World Vision beneficiaries where she learnt to take initiative, to speak in public and to work as part of a team.
“I began to develop as a person, to know myself better, to have friends,” she recalls. “I became more self-confident and soon the differences between me and the children in the town were no longer felt.”
Marina passed the exams at the Faculty of Law and Administration. She is currently in the second year at the university where she is appreciated by teachers and colleagues. She continues to live in her village and together with other former World Vision beneficiaries (and with support from World Vision), she founded the association “Just like You” aimed at helping other children in her community.
HOW DOES THIS STORY FIT WITHIN AN ABCD FRAMEWORK?
Marina’s quote “World Vision opened new horizons for us,” she remembers. They gave us the opportunity to see further than the universe of our village, to meet new people, and to develop the assts and strengths already within them.
World’s Vision’s work with Marina consisted more of developing and building her capacity than ‘giving her things’
Marina is an example of how people with existing assets (personal drive, a vision for their future, a willingness to work, a concern for others in her community) are vital agents in Assets Based Community Development.
Marina was then given the opportunity to re-invest in others in similar situations in a way that matched her assets not a World Vision Performa.
For more stories like this one from World Vision, Compassion, TEAR and local Churches please be sure to subscribe to this blog through the link in the top right hand corner.