Outreach Community partner Arnoldo has worked hard to change his life, inside and out. By his own admission, for much of his life, he heavily abused alcohol and mistreated his family and, like others in his community, was a stranger to working well with others. “ My family and other families within the community life in our own worlds,” he says. “We did not relate to each other.
When Outreach Nicaragua facilitator Mario began to work in his village, Arnoldo kept his distance, mistrustful of his motives. As Mario visited homes and heard the concerns of families throughout the community, he organized larger meetings so neighbors could discuss and prioritize their shared goals.
“My experience of working within the methods [Outreach] Nicaragua has allowed me to improve my relationship with my family, take away that macho mentality and improve my character. Now I listen to my wife and daughters and our decisions are made together.”
As more meetings were held, Arnoldo began to attend. A few meetings later, he found himself volunteering to help with projects to improve access to clean drinking water, establish a local medical clinic, and address the issue of excessive smoke from stoves in homes during food preparation.
One of the best things about the participatory Outreach Process is that in addition to representing meaningful change in community partners’ lives, it has a tendency to also cause seismic shifts in the way they view and relate to the world. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s extremely likely.
Meet Arnoldo’s Insights
“Getting involved in the work of Outreach Nicaragua allowed me to open my eyes to the real problems that we as families face in our daily lives,” Arnoldo says, downplaying the significance of his revelation.
For Arnoldo, working through his issues was a process of, well, working through his issues. With every new project, he found himself getting more and more deeply involved in participation, which had the result of increasing the pride he felt afterward by a few orders of magnitude each time. The lessons came fast and flexible— personal and practical insights, increased skills and techniques, and through it all, new experiences that reshaped whatever came next into something exciting.
There’s a school of thought that says if one cannot explain a concept in simple terms, one does not truly understand the concept in question. When sharing some of the insights he’s gained during his time working with Outreach, it’s clear that Arnoldo gets it.
Good: “I have learned to relate with the families of the community, working organized; that is to say, I allow other families to share their ideas and thoughts.”
Better: “I have learned to confront representatives of institutions and organizations to expose the problems that affect us in an organized way where each one has a specific role, documentation of the written proposal and practice.”
Best: “My experience of working within the methods [Outreach] Nicaragua has allowed me to improve my relationship with my family, take away that macho mentality and improve my character. Now I listen to my wife and daughters and our decisions are made together.”
Meet Arnoldo’s Transformation
These days, Arnoldo externalizes his spirit of restless innovation. “We have revolutionized this technology,” he says of the original design for the smokeless ‘eco-stoves’ installed in homes to reduce cooking smoke-related illnesses resulting from daily meal preparation. “We modified the design— and when I say ‘we,’ I mean everyone [from our community] who was involved in the project. All these modifications have been possible thanks to the observations and recommendations of the beneficiaries.” In 2017, community partners constructed 81 eco-stoves.
Arnoldo has come a long way in his life — from cautionary tale to an exemplar of personal responsibility and dedication — and whether he knows it or not, he’s an inspiration. To others considering joining a community development group in his country, he shares, “I would first congratulate him for having awakened his love for the community work that is carried out with the cooperative.” But that’s not all: “I would also share that community work is not easy but with perseverance and community love we can achieve many things.”
Let’s say that again, with a slightly broader scope, because it might very well be the key to everything we do at Outreach, and everywhere else in our lives at every moment: With perseverance and community love, we can achieve anything.
How to Help
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