It takes a village to raise a child.
– African proverb
What does this mean? A child needs to have a village in order to grow? I think it represents the social infra structure and circumstance around a child should be equipped for fulfilling a person’s needs, and that will allow a child to grow up well.
Inspired by this, many NGOs in international development started to have a new form of development, so called ‘Community Development Project'(CDP). Means, an international developmental organization brings aids to a specific area in a beneficiary country in achieving a comprehensive, all-around development. Generally, a person needs enormous things to live like a decent human being and a village is there for fulfilling the person’s needs: the access to food, basic education, clean water, medical support and the right to be protected and to work. Long ago, many international development NGOs realized one time donation for a nice gift cannot change the real life of local people so they turned their approaches systematically, and this resulted in CDP.
I’ve been working for an international development organization which tries to carry out diverse developmental projects in a local village, so have a basic understanding how these work together. But then, what about villages or cities in (so-called) developed countries? Do they already have these all? Don’t they need anything to develop? Since I joined atlas corps fellowship, my question comes to the US community, especially DC, where I live and work. and I found a very interesting local community partnership in Adams Morgan during my stay here.
I work for a nonprofit pre-school in Adams Morgan, named Jubilee JumpStart. My school turned 7 years old this year, and it has been serving primarily low income families in the community. My school is one of the ministries from the Church of Saviour and sharing a same root with other over 40 ministries. All these ministries started from a small church; about 70 years ago, Pastor Gordon Cosby built the Church of the Saviour where the mission group was initiated by some church members. The mission group started to found nonprofit organizations/facilities step by step for local people.
In 1960, the mission group established a cafe named ‘Potter’s House’ that anyone can mingle and talk regardless of wealth, race, and religion. Also the group founded ‘Jubilee Housing’ for providing affordable housings for low income worker. ‘Jubilee Jobs’ was build for helping people to jobs, and to get job training. ‘Christ House’ is providing accommodations, medical supports and rehabilitation training for homeless people, ‘Columbia Road Health Service’ offers medical services in low price for refugees, homeless people, low income families and seniors, and ‘The Family Place’ aims to support individual/families by offering counseling, especially for teenage single moms and disabilities. There are so many more ministries working for the local people in Adams Morgan and Columbia heights, and you can find all ministries here with a brief introduction of each organization. (http://inwardoutward.org/ministries/)
We cannot say it’s a community partnership if there are many organizations but don’t cooperate together. Since organizations founded, they cooperate together til now. A person who’s enrolled in Jubilee JumpStart but looking for a house or job can prioritize in Jubilee Housing or Jubilee Jobs. After school, kids are going to Sitar Art Center to take art and music classes or take Early Start/Teen Renaissance program from Jubilee Housing, because kids need to do something fun and educational after school under adults’ supervision while their parents are working. I took some art classes from Sitar Art Center as they offer some classes for adult, and the tuition appropriated by my income. So children and families can enjoy great art classes in affordable price. If anyone needs a help for parenting or counseling, Jubilee JumpStart provides a free parenting training and counseling, no matter whether their kid are attending our school.
These organizations are working together to help people and families, and I realized this is the source of collective cooperation and the power to chaning people’s lives. As we all know, every county, society and community has homeless and vulnerable people. But our community has a well-organized system to support them? Do we really pay attention how to make a better village for all, and let the door open for the underprivileged in our community?
It take enormous time and effort to raise a child, to make a great environment for a child to become a great adult. The community partnership in Adams Morgan did take this responsibility its own and systemized the networks based on empathy and understanding. The well-organized community partnership can prevent loosing marginalized people from the society, but, rather can give them a hope to live well. This makes me to believe a child who has experiencing and getting support from a community will grow a person who naturally gives helps for others and society in the future.