In order to build trusting relationships with each individual in need, our team spends weeks, months, and in some cases years, integrating themselves into the communities we work in.
Our team encourages individuals to openly discuss concerns for their community and families. They begin setting priority issues, establishing goals and developing a plan of action.
Now individuals put their plans into practice. When individuals find their voices, work together and become self-reliant, they are no longer dependent on handouts. They are able to access the resources they need—whether those resources come from us directly, or from another source.
When individuals begin to see themselves as the solutions, they are able to fix a problem and move forward to solve the next, helping friends and neighbors do the same. Learning from each action they take, they are able to continually learn and grow as a community.
The SEF Process
Our work is effective because of our Participatory Human Development Process (PHSP). This inclusive nine-step process uses extensive firsthand research and involves community participation that bolsters confidence and invokes action in the impoverished individuals we work with in the field. Our goal is to help impoverished individuals become completely self-reliant rather than dependent on handouts. And it works!
You can make a difference in the hearts of many!
In the first step, the SEF Team moves into the community, establishing a rapport with the residents. They become acclimated in the community, visit homes and engage in one-on-one conversations, creating mutual respect, trust and open communication. Understanding the people in the community is vital in preparing them for change. The program is about the interaction between the people in the field and the SEF Team. The integration process can take weeks or longer before the people open themselves up for discussion and are able to express their concerns and readiness to move on to the next stage of development.
2. Social Investigation.
In the second step, SEF's Outreach team gather and analyze the data about the community and its issues. This information is the basis for organizing and planning, and may be obtained by conducting surveys, interviewing individuals, discussing in small groups, observing the people, obtaining available information from documents (demographics, etc.), and developing an open flow of communication. Who are the natural leaders? What help might government be induced to give? When Social Investigation is properly performed, it should enable the SEF team to assist the people with the next step.
3. Problem Identification and Prioritization.
The third step of the PHDP process must be carried out collectively by the people. Often, what is perceived to be a problem by one person may not be seen as pressing by the community as a whole. Developing the people’s confidence and demonstrating problem-solving skills is important. Once problems are identified, the group then determines which problem to tackle first. The first problem should be one that the group is capable of resolving. It should be within the ability of the persons involved to work out solutions, not be divisive in nature, and one in which the people can be involved to develop their skills of mind and abilities.
The fourth step prepares the people physically and psychologically to participate in group activities. It involves raising awareness, developing commitment and encouraging participation in organizational activities. But first and foremost it is to enable people to undertake these activities on their own, on a continuous basis. The goal is to ensure that a great many people will participate. The SEF team will observe and give attention to emerging leaders, give emphasis to systems that will develop skills and give the people opportunity to think through their problems and arrive at reasonable solutions.
5. Public Meetings.
In the fifth step, the community comes together to analyze, plan and develop the solution for their problems. Individual and personal perceptions and aspirations become consolidated into collective knowledge and collective goals. The people develop trust, respect, openness and confidence with each other, regardless of their positions in their group and community. Leaders begin to emerge and take shape from within the group.
6. Role Playing.
The sixth step prepares the community for mobilization. In this phase, individuals act out or simulate all possible scenarios or situations that may occur during the mobilization or action ahead, preparing the people to deal more effectively with those responsible for making decisions concerning the their problems. This step helps build their confidence so they are able to negotiate with an outside party or individual on a more equal footing.
In the seventh step, the community begins to implement their plan. They will have face-to-face contact with the outside party or individual who is responsible for making the decision concerning their problem. It can be either internal (requiring local/self-help solutions) or external (when outside resources are needed). This step helps the people realize that their poverty, or helplessness, does not make them less worthy as human beings, allowing them to relate with equality, dignity and respect to those who are “privileged” or “powerful.”
The eighth step gives the community a chance to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Mobilization/Action and determine whether or not the goals have been achieved. Learning from each experience makes the next activity more productive and effective. Group members will ask themselves, “What did we set out to do? What were our strengths? What could we have done better?” Re-planning should follow each evaluation. As the people review, they develop a new sense of community power, support and the joy of achievement.
The final step is conducted immediately after a project or activity. Reflection draws out learnings and lessons, which determine new values, knowledge and awareness. These help to sustain further action and organizational activities. Positive values are reinforced and the need to change any negative values is determined. If no lessons are learned from the people’s experiences and actions, they will move in a different direction.
The people should be reminded of how things were before they mobilized and what they felt like before they made their decisions. They should also consider the good qualities they found among those that assisted in the solution. The Reflection step may be conducted by the SEF's Human Development Specialist, but developing leaders capable of presiding over such a session is desirable.