Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Every development program seeks to identify strategies that produce positive results for target populations. Women and children are particularly vulnerable groups. Numerous resources are expended on programs that seek to improve their wellbeing. However, program results are often less than hoped for, and there are often complaints about family influences that deter meticulous adherence to what is being offered or recommended by the program. Judi attributes this to the lack of these programs practice of sufficiently taking into account cultural realities; i.e., the given values, experiences and social roles of different communities. This incongruity between cultural realities, in which grandmothers play a central role, and their absence from development programs, makes itself evident at various levels: in the policies of national and international organizations, in the programs they implement, and in the approaches taken by development agents who work directly with communities.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Judi is repositioning grandmothers, who have long been ignored and even vilified in attempts at community development, as key agents of change in this process. Several insights drive her work. At a foundational level, Judi recognizes that most programs focus on young people with the thinking that this group is less tied to traditional habits that are perceived to be counterproductive to progress. However, Judi has observed that in reality, this strategy, however well intended, becomes fractious, causing deeper, even if not easily measurable, rifts in the community as you have two different groups going in two different directions. Judi also recognizes that there are domains in which grandmothers have historically been the most active players in the family and community - like health, nutrition, early childhood care, education, hygiene, etc – and thus, have accumulated knowledge. Some of this knowledge may have to be updated, Judi agrees, but she has found grandmothers to be open to new ideas provided they are engaged in a manner based on respect, appreciation, and dialogue between the aged and other community stakeholders. Indeed, these grandmothers, who have historically been regarded as family counselors and as supervisors of younger women and children, already have a certain esteem in the community, and thus, are well positioned to be powerful levers for changing norms and practices to the benefit of the vulnerable groups that so many development programs target. Instead of working against this organic dynamic, Judi is showing development programs how to incorporate grandmothers into their work, in order to increase their long-term effectiveness. And in the process, Judi is building the practice of having communities first look internally for cultural resources when tackling their challenges, and thus, they are becoming more resilient