Strengthening Communities through Capacity Building
Community Knowledge-Sharing Fair in Hawassa
In the world of scarce resources and society’s infinite needs, it is through Community Participation that we can solve the poverty-related issues faced by developing countries in a sustainable manner. For the last ten years, Mary Joy Development Association (MJDA) encourages, supports and strengthens community initiatives through technical and material support. As a result, Mary Joy Development Association has achieved promising best practices that support sustainability issues in caring and supporting orphan and vulnerable children (OVC).
In order to gain additional support for community groups from the local government, NGOs and the private sector, MJDA organized a Knowledge-Sharing Fair in collaboration with various community groups from Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (Hawassa, Aletawondo, Dilla, Halaba Kulito and Yirgalem).
The fair is an innovative example of how vulnerable and resource-starving communities contribute to the development of their neighborhoods. Each participating village designed its own stand to exhibit its achievements through photography, videos and graphics at the Mary Joy’s Youth center in Hawassa.
The fair received hundreds of visitors, including city mayors and other municipal leaders. After the community groups’ presentations, the mayors shared with the audience their impressions of the achievements of the community groups and made a vow to provide additional support.
The major objectives of the fair were:
- To enhance and strengthen community mobilization practices while creating an opportunity for community groups to display their work and
efforts in caring and supporting OVCs.
- To give community groups the opportunity to access additional sources of support from local Government, NGO and private sector.
The following practices shared by the community groups were considered the event’s most successful:
- Renovation of houses for OVC, OVC guardians and the elderly through local resources mobilization.
- Tutorial classes conducted voluntarily for OVCs by community members.
- School construction through community and resources mobilization.
- Local sponsorship, scholarships, and employment for the elderly and OVCs.
- Establishing formal structure, MOU and bank accounts for OVC care and support at town community level.
The event also staged a competition among the community groups from the five project sites.
The Community from Halaba Kulito won the competition thanks to their outstanding effort in constructing a school only with local resources.
Finally the event was a wake-up call for the NGOs, municipalities, businesses and individuals on the importance
of community participation for sustainable development in developing countries.