It’s not easy to implement community development projects as a young person or a student while studying and here are a few takeaways.
Fellow youths have asked me about youth development work and I am humbled to share a few lessons learnt to young people and students aspiring to implement community programs back in your villages. This is a general approach and you may adopt or contextualize it to your project.
Find your connection
Find your connection could be through your family members or elders, leaders in the village. It’s easy for those who are coming out of the village to reconnect. I know many out there who grew up in the city or town want to give back to their communities but struggle in connecting with their community due to the disconnection growing up.
One way to reconnect is to follow your family network or through the community leaders. It’s not easy as it sounds so make that effort by reaching out. It will take time. You may talk to your friends or school mate from the same village to find their interests and work together.
Understand the community problem and prioritize
If you grow up in the village, then you just need to prioritize which issue you need to address within your reach, experience, passion and capacity.
Again, talk to the community leaders/elders. If you grew up in the city, then it is best to talk to your parents or elders what’s the need and priorities of the community. Or simply get through an organization that is already working in your village.
Listen to community members and make a consensus
This is a straightforward call. Listen to different opinions but you have to decide on which actions to take and clearly outline action plans at the beginning. Clarify what you can do and what is expected for them to do. Be crystal clear in the beginning and draw the lines and deadlines. Don’t generalize!
Implementation and community ownership – allow space for community members to volunteer to lead and implement the project. Hold them accountable for their volunteer efforts and commend them. Set deadlines for all parties. Or money management may be an issue so make a tuff call on this.
With all vendors having bank accounts, hold the money and make payments online except the cost for miscellaneous (buai/smoke) expenses.
If the project requires items from town, make the payments and let the project team pick up the materials.
Not all will go well as planned but never give up! Make sure understand the context and environment you’re getting yourself involved in the first place. This is important as it will act as a reminder that there are challenges to overcome.
Allow challenges to pass through and once everything settles, resume work unless it’s beyond your control.
Appreciate everyone’s efforts by simply thanking them and reflecting with a leadership team on lessons learnt. Celebrate achievements and move on to the new project!
Don’t be complacent about past success. Keep moving and developing your village!
Young people and community development
I thank God for His grace upon young people who are taking ownership in their respective fields and communities across the country to change the course of development.
We need young investors, entrepreneurs, social and development workers, leaders with integrity and professionals across all sectors to change the course of development and pave the country we want.
I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon you and may you serve with humility.
Now go as young men and women and work with your community. Your village and people need you. Remember, if you don’t take action to address the problem/issue, who else will do it?
Lessons learnt in driving youth-led development.
By Kim Allen
Check out Kim’s article on PNG Writers’ Corner about the work of the missionaries in Milne Bay Province.