Changing mindsets, responding to need, community leaders and capacity building are all key in helping communities lift themselves out of the poverty trap. These points were discussed at the recent “The Poverty Trap – Challenge of the Mind” Fireside Chat hosted by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the not-for-profit humanitarian organisation Asia Refuge as part of the NUS Greater Good Series.
At the Fireside Chat, Dr Yong Saing Koma, the 2013 Asia Refuge Projects Fellow and the recent recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2012, spoke with Professor Kua Ee Heok, professor in the Department of Psychological Medicine, NUS. The Chat was moderated by gastroenterologist Dr Tan Chi Chiu, Managing Director of Gastroenterology & Medicine International in Singapore.
During the discussion, the speakers agreed that instilling in a community a belief that they can move forward and developing community spirit are just as important as capacity building in helping communities rise up from a low base. The people within the community must come to realise what they can do themselves to change their situation.
At the same time, external parties, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), trying to assist these communities must also learn to listen to their needs and not to decide what they believe the need is. Likewise, governments must learn how to work effectively with NGOs and donors must understand the requirements and needs of these communities.
Change must also come from the ground up: communities should be encouraged to use the skills and facilities they already have to help them emerge from the poverty trap. These communities should avoid becoming reliant on support – ‘handouts’ – from outside parties such as charitable organisations.
Moreover, communities must also have a long-term view and not focus on short-term solutions. This change must be driven by leaders from within the community. The challenge is equipping people to think for themselves.
“The Poverty Trap – Challenge of the Mind” Fireside Chat was sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank and Newsman Realty Pte Ltd.
The NUS Greater Good Series features talks by leading minds on topics related to philanthropy. These include generosity, giving and service to the community, as well as leadership, personal well-being and mental resilience. The Series aims to raise awareness of philanthropy and its impact on society. The Series was made possible thanks to a generous gift from Newsman Realty Pte Ltd.
For further information on the NUS Greater Good Series, contact Jeanne Ng on Jeanne.firstname.lastname@example.org