'العربية / Al-ʿarabīyah
He did not challenge the community
by Phil Bartle, PhD
Short stories to illustrate the principles
Wilson went too far in letting the community make its own decisions. “The community knows what it needs,” he said, “and we must work to help it get what it needs.” What he overlooked is that the community members might not have carefully thought through their needs, and followed a few opinion leaders who were not really expressing the views of the whole community.
“We need a new mosque,” they said in a village of 500 that had five mosques already. Wilson worked hard with the community members to plan and build a new mosque. There were too many mosques, and not enough people and resources to maintain them all.
Meanwhile babies were dying of diarrhoea, children were not getting education, the roads to the village were close to impassable, and the market was uncovered when the heavy rains came. Wilson did not have to tell them what to think. He needed to challenge them to choose what they needed most, and how they wanted to spend their limited resources. If they can defend their choice, it is likely more close to what the whole community needed.
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