Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Role of Partnerships in Capacity-Building and Empowerment in Southville, Cabuyao

Sustainable development, insofar as urban poverty reduction, moves beyond capacity building to generate new opportunities; it builds partnerships as well. The Vincentian Center for Social Responsibility built partnerships with the Southville community blocks which enabled them to become invested in the community’s long-term success. This mutually beneficial relationship is evident in the rate of continued involvement between the Adamson facilitators and the first batch group; the facilitators are learning about themselves from the Southville community members and take pride in their continued success.

Partnerships between individuals of different communities and organizations do more than establish mentorship-like relationships, they empower individuals beyond what they would expect of themselves, “[…] empowerment is generally identified with the process of enhancing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes”, (Development Research Toolkit, Tavanti). The VCSR was able to empower the community members of Southville in intended and unintended ways. Using values formation to develop their communication skills and self-confidence, the community members were inspired to seek out other paths towards self-fulfillment and education. For some community members like Beth Novilla (the young woman featured in the picture), self-fulfillment was literacy and education, but also returning her skills to the community by becoming a teacher in the day care center.

The VCSR was founded on the principles of the Millennium Development Goals, global targets created by the United Nations to eradicate poverty by the year 2025 (http://www.undp.org/mdg/). In many ways, the VCSR did not physically provide the Southville community blocks with the resources to achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, or improve maternal health (to name 3 out of the 8 goals). Through the values formation process, the facilitators helped the community members see value within themselves as individuals. The notion of the individual as social capital is an important component of being a valuable contributor to the economy of the community, but also in terms of seeing the individual as an indispensable resource to society. The promotion of the MDG goals through the integrated sustainability process, the VCSR was able to instill a sense of direction among the people of the Southville community blocks.

In the Development Research Toolkits, Dr. Tavanti distinguishes five pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, economic, institutional, and cultural. With regard to the work of the VCSR in the community blocks, the notion of social sustainability holds the most truth. “Social sustainability requires that the cohesion of society and its ability to work towards common goals be maintained […]”. Thinking back to the original struggle of the VCSR to gain the trust of the community and build partnerships, the most important component was building consensus among the community members that the values formation and community development process was worth their time and effort. The VCSR asked the question that no other NGO asked them in the past – what do you want, and where do you want to go? It found common goals among the community and developed relationships with individuals to ensure that the needs of the community were met individually, and as a cohesive unit.

For the VCSR, sustainable development means nurturing partnerships and relationships with the individual community members in the Southville community blocks. Taking a personalized approach, they invested themselves in the community’s success, and as a result take pride in their achievements. The community was empowered to set a different course for itself in line with the MDG goals and is, in many ways, taking small steps toward emerging as a self-sustaining and economically developed community.

by Ashley Perzyna

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