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Reflection c

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reflection c
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  I really liked the idea of asset-based community development; the idea that communities are not based on needs, but on utilizing the gifts of its members. This way, every member contributes and feels like they are an important part of this group, and every member benefits from the gifts of others. This creates a stronger community based on trust and equality. However, this model, to me, seems very optimistic and I wonder whether or not Global Brigades is able to facilitate it. I thought it was very interesting when this model was compared to the idea of voting in democracy. We all think that equal voting means an equal say, and it does to some extent, but an association within a community, “is a means to make power   rather than giving it away (8).” I think t hat this idea of empowerment and self-sufficiency is very important to the Global Brigades model. The idea is not to enter a country and do some service work because we are so superior. This is similar to the idea of voting as a democracy. Maybe the people did choose for us to come to them and maybe they do want us there. Similar to when we vote and elect a president; we did have a say in putting him in office and putting him in charge of the country. However, our direct involvement often ends here. We do not get to help Obama make decisions or decide what needs to be done. In terms of my Global Brigades experience, we do not aim to be Barack Obama to these  people, someone they elected to make all the decisions and do what they thought best. This implies a power dynamic that is not our goal. We want to provide resources to help these communities, but we want to work with them. On the Global Brigades values and mission page it states that we aim to “work in partnership with community members to improve quality of life.”  Global Brigades really does strive to use the ABCD model by getting the community involved.  We got the chance to visit two communities, Jalaca and Ojochal. Both were  beautiful communities. Ojochal was one that had been visited by all the different types of  brigades already and we got the opportunity to see them celebrating this. Within the community and the organized fiesta, I definitely saw the ABCD model at work. Everyone had a role in the festivities. The children sang and performed a traditional dance for everyone. Some of the woman passed out tacos they had made. They were celebrating the first time the community would have water that they did not have to travel for, and the men helped get the pump up and running. One of the elderly women who had done the long journey to retrieve water many times participated in the symbolic smashing of the water pot; the heavy clay pot that she carried on her head for miles full of water. Other community members helped watch all the children while this was going on. Each person got to contribute to the performance with their individual assets while also getting to enjoy the contributions of others. This is what made the ceremony so beautiful. Global Brigades allowed two associations to come together. The people in the villages of Honduras were one association and us, volunteers from Loyola University Chicago, were another. At first, I had trouble seeing me as an asset to the community. I was not very skilled in the field of medicine. Although I have aspiration of being a doctor, I had no clinical medical experience. The night before our first clinical I wrote in my journal about all my fears and one of the main ones was that I would not know what I was doing and that I would be more of a liability than an asset. I did not feel like I had a lot to offer. However, once I got there, my fears dissolved. The people were so encouraging, kind and grateful. We were able to offer them consolations with our doctors, pap smears with our gynecologist, medications, vitamins, extractions, fillings,  fluoride treatments, and lessons in dental hygiene. I felt so lucky to get to assist with all of these things. However, I felt that I gained more from them. The people of Jalaca had so many assets to offer and I learned so much from them. They allowed me to experience their culture and their hospitality. They offered us food even though they did not have much. I learned a lot about the medical field, not just technicalities, but also about the importance of a doctor- patient relationship and how important it is to make the patient feel comfortable. They allowed me to learn these things in a comfortable environment; they were very patient with me. I also loved watching the community members interact with each other. Similar to Ojocahl, they really were a close community who helped each other. This really was inspiring and showed me the type of community I would like to be a part of. After seeing all of this, and realizing that our association both gave and took things from their association, I realized that Global Brigades really does put the ABCD model to work. However, like in early American pioneers who created the initial model for ABCD, both of us also have needs. This model focuses on the positive, but the needs are there just the same. The people of Jalaca had a lot of common health problems, like  parasites. Many of the people were under educated about their health. For example, many women were too shy to get pap smears and did not realize how important they are to their health. As American volunteers, a lot of us did not speak Spanish and some of us had a very low tolerance for uncomfortable conditions because we are so used to air conditioning and nice, accessible bathrooms at home. Both of us had defecates, however McKnight believes that building an ABCD community can help us focus on the assets when he says about people who are isolated, “Their greatest deficiency is the lack of  connection to the rest of us (18).” By building connections like Global Brigades allowed us to do, we can focus on our assets and help each other to meet our needs. The ABCD model is very optimistic, but I do not think it is unrealistic. I think the Global Brigades mission goes hand in hand with it, bringing communities together. Works Cited McKnight, John, , and . A Basic Guide to ABCD Community Organizing. (n.d.): n.  pag. Web.
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