The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 6 August 2014

The ABCD of Agency Advertising

Do you notice that the adverts of aid agencies or those seeking support for work with disadvantaged communities often feature people who are impoverished in some way?  Perhaps it is the child in Africa without access to clean water?  Maybe it is the person in a wheelchair in a western nation who is dependent upon a carer to feed them?

Each of these adverts pull at our heart-strings.  The agencies then hope that this tugs our wallet out of our pockets and we donate to the charity.

Of course the agencies and charities need funding to be able to continue their work.  But ads like these will never help break down the structural barriers that mean that these agencies have to exist at all.

The message contained in the adverts is one of “look at me, I am in despair, I am at your mercy.”  The message we are given is that the person in the advert - and presumably hundreds of others - has no skills, no assets, no creative ability.

In community development there is a concept known as ABCD – Asset Based Community Development.  Briefly, ABCD begins with discovering what the assets, skills, talents and abilities of a community are, and works from that base.  This is different to that of a needs-based approach, where the deficiencies and lacks of a community are the starting point.  The problem with the latter approach is that it views people and communities as inherently valueless.  People in this approach bring nothing with them to the process of development, they are dependent entirely on the expertise, skills and knowledge of the outside developer.

But, people, no matter what their situation, have skills, knowledge and talent.  Why not acknowledge that?  Why not utilise that?

This is not to say that those who are on the margins of society or those in situations of disadvantage are not in need of assistance.  But, it is not for the expert to judge what that need is.  It is not for the expert to devalue the person or community by advertising the neediness.  People are of more value than that.

I have seen one advert that bucks this trend.  A young man who uses a wheelchair speaks about what he has managed to achieve, because of his abilities, with the help of others.  He does not present as needy or dejected or demoralised.  He projects himself as a very competent, engaging young man.  His story is very much one of “this is what I am doing.”  His parting words are: “How you doing?”

“How you doing?” indeed. 

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