Our Approach to Development
Local Communities are the Experts
We believe that the path to a poverty free world is founded on building community-level capacity. We typically work with communities who have the greatest challenges yet the desire and the drive to enact change. What they need are the tools, training, skills and initial support to tackle their specific development issues.
Local communities are the experts when it comes to identifying practical ways to achieve improvements in their daily lives. Our experience in Cambodia has shown us that many communities hold an abundance of ideas for a better future. We see our role as facilitating this process, offering technical advice and direction to help communities develop the solutions to lift themselves out of poverty.
This Life is an international development organisation that respects, protects and promotes human rights for all, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, indigeneity, disability, age, displacement, caste, gender, gender identity, sexuality, sexual orientation, poverty, class, or socio-economic status.
This Life upholds the principle of inclusiveness in all of our work. We understand that a range of factors can influence individuals’ and groups’ ability to access support and services and that different groups can experience marginalisation and exclusion at different times. This Life is particularly committed to supporting these groups to improve their access to education, information, health care, technology, support, and services. Factors contributing to marginalisation and exclusion in Cambodia include, but are not limited to:
- geographic isolation;
- living with a disability;
- identifying as a member of an Indigenous or non-Indigenous ethnic minority (locally known as ‘upland Khmer’); and
- gender identity, sexuality, and sexual orientation.
This Life works to address the intersecting drivers of marginalisation, recognising that one who may have multiple factors of marginalisation will experience exclusion differently.
Working in Partnership
We believe that working in partnership with local government entities is the best way to achieve sustainable and lasting change. For instance, the national government in Cambodia is developing strong policies for education and juvenile justice reform but implementation is slow. Decentralisation has pushed increasing amounts of responsibility to local levels of government but with limited support and training. By working from within schools, prisons and other institutions we are bridging the gap that exists by building capacity at the grassroots.
The unifying factor in everything we do is to work alongside residents listening to their needs and concerns. A central component of our program design is a Community Driven Dialogue, our own methodology based on the older Participatory Rural Appraisal process. Through this process, communities identify issues, create solutions and set priorities. This is followed by an implementation phase that provides for community engagement, ownership, capacity building and mobilisation.
Our goal is to build capacity for long-term self-sufficiency. Sustainability is a fundamental tenet of everything we do. By establishing clear entry and exit strategies we ensure that leadership remains within the community after the program is completed