3. Helping poor to slowly change reality in the light of future prospects: (hope)
4. Getting women to be participative and assertive of their rights: (gender-justice)
5. Showing how ‘actualizing’ Faith becomes a way of life: (integration)
6. Inculcating a sense of wholesomeness by the discovery and use of valuable potential within blocks: (positivity)
7. Encouraging team-leadership: (co-responsibility)
8. Organizing follow-ups for evaluation and further planning: (growth)
FORMULATION OF OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES [Approx 100 WORDS]
The long-term objective of ‘Neighborhood Newness’ is the maturation (flowering) of the Basic Communities. There’s a fair degree of poverty reduction. Witnessed is a spirit of collaboration among people, such that the maximum resources are utilized by the vast majority in the neighborhood.
That is the result of the mid-term objective being reached, whereby there is a spontaneous integration of persons and values, even though it may not be without some mid-way crises in relationships.
The short-term objective essentially focuses around the becoming slowly acquainted with each other through a sharing of common interests. This creates an eagerness of wanting to belong (to the community), without losing one’s personal identity. Again, animators ensure the spirit of Love prevails right through the entire process.
MOBILISATION OF RESOURCES [Approximately 200 WORDS]
Financial resources: I have stated in No. 7 (Financial Profile) how I have been handling the financial side of my “Best Practice”.
Technical resources: Their mobilization has value, helps attain objectives and creates long-lasting effects insofar as they are powered by Love-consciousness rooted in Faith. My kit of technical resources, interestingly, comprises of some electronic media, marker pens, charts and even selected scrap. Youth and simple villagers who know not English, benefit much from my ‘home-made awareness encounters’. Some of the scrap-made ‘awareness- games’ are also used at my sessions in towns. Videos from series like “Race to Save the Planet” and “Lumen 2000” make participants realize that if others elsewhere ‘comunitize-in-Love’ and thus resolve some critical environmental issues, they also can do the same. My charts graphically present key points of my sessions.
Human resources: There are times when I rope in women friends to drive home feminist perspectives. Being into voluntary post-quake service, I do not have a regular team of animators as when on full-time countrywide animation between 1976- 1993.
PROCESS [Approximately 400 WORDS]
- As a Roman Catholic, I am a member of a progressive Religious Order called the Jesuits. Hardliners participating at my revolutionary program on Neighborhood Newness can be a stumbling block. They vehemently oppose some proposals, arguing endlessly, thus affecting the motivation of others.
- The Jesuits are an Order of Priests and Brothers. The Brother’s vocation is either not fully recognized or not clearly understood by lay people, as well as by many Priests and Nuns. However convincingly I deliver the goods, that negative attitude toward Religious Brothers creates a bias, and hence an inability of my stuff being taken seriously.
- Having to accept transfers by virtue of our Religious membership, risks some groups either splitting up or diluting the process of growth, if there is no capable replacement to conduct the follow-up. Besides, I’m both – a very original thinker and pretty much of a risk-taker. This makes it difficult for my successor to confidently take over my flow of thought.
- Even if the replacement is able to take up where I leave off, believing this to be a work of God’s, and not an individual’s, people on their part run out of patience and hunt for quick-fix solutions. In this impulsiveness, they tend to switch to methodologies with seemingly easy formulae.
- At another level, a serious problem arises due to anti-minority elements going about instilling fear and hatred into the minds of simple people, posing threats and causing communal divides.
- Most of all, the inability to live in a state of conscious, Faith-nurtured Love, lies at the root of the above-mentioned problems.
BASIS FOR OVERCOMING PROBLEMS:
The ghetto mentality exists among all religio-cultural groups, in varying degrees. Surfacing Love to its level of consciousness, widening its dimensions and highlighting its positive outcomes, primarily releases that octopus-like grip of the ghetto, and welcomes people of other faiths into the community-building process.
Strategic Planning: In contrast with individual resolutions or a list of recommendations, a corporate, systematic planning with time-bound targets and follow-up committees with clearly defined roles, smoothly accelerates the ‘communitizing’ process, as well as facilitates the decision-making process at various stages of the journey toward togetherness-for-outreach. Given that some are passive and others loud-mouthed, loving animators have the dual art of encouraging the soft-spoken and controlling the vocal.
RESULTS ACHIEVED [Approximately 250 WORDS]
A tree is known by its fruits, but also because it takes roots in a fixed spot, and spends years being cared for, at that same spot. As said earlier, as a member of a Religious Order, there are periodic transfers. At times I have been granted requests I made. The green light was due to emergencies or dearth of long-term volunteers. Being thus mobile, I am no “tree”. Hence, different results from different locations have been clubbed here, as per the methodology adapted, wherever.
In the initial phase, a lot of individual passivity, shyness or other such hang-ups give way to varied forms and expressions of inter-relating, of coming out of ‘shells’ and phobias.
The air of friendliness gradually builds up into a sense of belonging as a community, after a few years of bi-monthly neighborhood group meetings. Part of these meetings also include spontaneous praying, in lieu of ‘ready-made prayers’ that were recited for years on end. Sharing insights after listening to passages from different Scriptures, is also something that wasn’t heard of earlier. Generous gestures of joint-outreach to the needy also begin to be seen, as a result of needs being humbly expressed at the meetings.
En route to the long-term objective, news gets around the neighborhood, of jobless being employed, addictions being overcome, electricity and water-supply being restored, the poor being given free tuitions or medical aid, and so on. Certain basic communities have grown so strong that Government officials find them a force to reckon with. All this and more, because Love is at the base!
SUSTAINABILITY [Approximately 300 WORDS]
The methodology for “Prospective Planning” is an indispensable part of the process of ‘communitizing’ entire neighborhoods or even villages. Contained, are practical tips for various ways of sustainability at different levels. These might seem to border on sentimentality, sound too elementary to be taken seriously, or appear quite ‘commercial’ for building loving communities. On my part, I have never tired of offering these helpful hints at every program I’ve conducted on ‘Neighborhood Newness’.
Complementing another in person, for good things said or done, and not taking for granted that another would give the pat, is by itself praiseworthy. Penning, emailing or SMS’ing those complements in creative ways, at unexpected times, can prolong that boost that since the loved one is able to read the positive stroke again and again. Placing tiny notes of appreciation in unexpected though frequented spots, also go a long way. For, the surprise they spring on the recipient, further warms up the relationship.
Funding agencies and individual benefactors need to be more than thanked or prayed for. They need to periodically receive letters that lend a personal touch, beside getting the neighborhood newsletter. These make them glad to know that the funds are being well used. Such communication would find donations regularly forthcoming. That monthly newsletter ought to be as attractive as possible. It should cover a range of briefly presented topics, with a style creative enough to want to look forward to each issue.
Ordinarily, families take turns in hosting the bi-monthly meetings at their houses. From time to time, meetings held in natural settings make a difference in more ways than one. Creative also must be the way a meeting is announced, with its agenda. The more informal the style of reporting, the better the attention. Inviting outsiders whose basic communities have been dynamic, to share their experiences, is also a great way to keep the community spirit going and growing.
LESSONS LEARNED [Approximately 300 WORDS]
The A-to-N route to Neighborhood Newness:
1. Stay Aware by Being in love Constantly, not without Doing Everything else you Find to be God’s Will that would Help Intensify the Journey to His Kingdom – Lifting up especially the Many poor in your Neighborhood!
2. No two Basic Communities start off the same way or grow at the same pace. The BC’s being a people’s experience, they emerge from the grassroots “below”. Thrusting things from the “top” would only stifle growth and keep the poor, poor. Animators need to move at the pace of the common people. The more the rotation of leadership, the healthier the growth of the community.
3. Basic Communities are not a merely human experience of outreach-through-togetherness. They are neither a pious association praying for unbelievers or sinners, nor a group of social activists fighting for justice because others are just meditating, or enjoying life. BC’s are ‘love-able people’ of different faiths, taking up common causes, especially those that concern the poor of their areas.
In Faith-groomed Love, human togetherness possesses the potential capable of achieving what is personally impossible, overcoming what the best of modern technologies cannot, and sustaining what professionally or institutionally we cannot long hold on to.
Personal talents and religious beliefs, professional skills and institutional set-ups, monetary funds and material facilities – when all these are discerningly used as a community for the common good, especially the welfare of the needy, then humanity will discover how the power of Love can displace and destroy the love of power!
Indeed, a lot more people stand to benefit in more ways, for a longer while, when consciously good and faithful persons in their neighborhoods stretch their lovable selves and valuable resources boundlessly.
TRANSFERS [Approximately 400 WORDS]
A U. N. Recognition
‘Movement for a Better World’(MBW) is the only renewal movement of the Catholic Church to have had a presence and service at the U.N. Being a member of the ECOSOC, its office used to be at 777, U.N. Plaza, New York. As of the present, it has its representatives as visiting resource persons on the U.N. Campus.
For well over fifty years, MBW’s teams of animators in around 25 countries have been motivating various groups of people toward bettering the world of their given milieus in practical, carefully planned ways. This communitarian animation takes place during seminars or special formation programs.
A forerunner to my “Best Practice” offering
The most popular of MBW’s services of animation has been a methodology for building communities. Over 2000 Dioceses and Parishes of the Catholic Church across the world have been using this methodology with varying degrees of success. Between 1976 and 1993, I was on the Indian Team of MBW teaching that methodology and conducting other courses of socio-pastoral renewal in India and a few parts of Asia.
Midway through that long and enriching period, I went to live amidst mostly Hindu farmers in a village in Maharashtra, India, to offer non-formal education. There I learnt two strong lessons:
(1) To build a better world of people of different cultures and religions, calls for a language, attitude and approach different from what I was using with the MBW Team. (2) Discerningly integrated into this approach must be a Faith-moving Love consciously lived, daringly experienced.
As MBW-India asked for my service again after two ‘rurally resplendent’ years, I re-joined their national team. It was during this second stint of 7 years that I composed and conducted the course on “Neighborhood Newness” countrywide, showing how communities-in-Love can build a new humanity-for-life in their existing environs.
Sometime after my return from Africa, where I was on voluntary service to refugees in Malawi, I was invited to join MBW for the third time. I did so. Due to the massive earthquake in Gujarat, January 2001 needing long-term volunteers, I have also been serving in the devastated District of Kutch in N-W India.
During these past three years, I have written 2 books. The first - a semi workbook entitled ‘Rearing Love for Reviving Life’ is precisely about how Faith-driven Love can gradually better any human habitat, if such Love is lived in its consciousness and thus developed in its wholesomeness.
Ref. No. IND 361_06
MARK BARCO, S.J.
Kutch Vikas Trust, Raidhanpar Village, Nagor P.O. 14
Bhuj – 370 001, Kutch District, Gujarat State, INDIA
Phone: 95-2832-274 229, 274 234; FAX: 95-2832-274 280
Email: email@example.com or: firstname.lastname@example.org
(RELATED POLICY/IES OR LEGISLATION: NOT APPLICABLE)
MARK BARCO, S.J