We believe that people possess the passion, knowledge, skills, and power to bring social change to their communities. We also believe that communities are at their best when the youth, women, and all marginalized groups are engaged, and their voices are acknowledged and represented. Therefore, an inclusive, empowering, and compassionate approach to development and social change is needed to analyze and challenge existing practices and methods deeply.
Our approach is built on four core elements that development action should address to bring a collective impact, as following:
Engaging with local context
The value of understanding context emerges from the assumption that “situatedness” matters, which means being sensitive to the relevance of individual and group identity, cultural context, community history and politics, and cultural humility. We believe that good practices cannot be transferred from context to another that does not relate. On the contrary, we should listen to the local context and find out how we should respond.
Participatory and collaborative methods
People are the most knowledgeable ones about their lives and issues. They should be at the heart of any change process. There is no longer room for imposing change or top-down development that did not result in shared ownership of decision-making. We believe that our role is to facilitate collective analysis, learning, and action, carried out with and by local people rather than on them.
Addressing inequalities and deep structures
It does not matter how much knowledge and skills we develop if we are not able to address existing power relations and deep structures that either exploit people or violate their rights. We believe that people need to cultivate critical judgment into themselves and others to foster social justice and gender equality. Justice-oriented leadership maintains an interrogation of power and privilege throughout the process.
Embracing complexity and system thinking
Our social reality cannot be treated as a controlled environment. Unlikely, it is a flux of continuous changes and actions of multiple actors. It implies a significant complexity that cannot be reduced in linear causal relations. Such understanding means that any development intervention should realize this complexity and help people to understand it. If we need to bring social change, we should work with this complexity, not undermine it.