Breaking the “us” versus “them” concept when working in the Indian social impact space
Approaching our work with a “saviour mentality” is going to work against us. When we approach our work in the social development sector with the notion that only “we” can help “them” (beneficiaries) have better lives, it instantly creates a strong barrier between us and them. While our intentions might in the right place, our definitions of a ‘better life’ might not be what the community needs in that moment. This is when our interventions and solutions begin to be detached from actual need that is to be solved in a community.
Our approach must shift from “fixing their problem” to “strengthening each other”. It is a small, yet powerful mental shift. This shift will allow us to keep our practice as inclusive as possible. We are a part of the same larger community. Yes, we may have a lot more privilege and support. We can be mindful of that, but still believe that we are a part of the larger ecosystem. We are solving challenges that help all of us collectively.
This approach will help everyone have more meaningful dialogue with each other on what the challenges are, and how we can pool in resources and brainstorm on a solution collaboratively. We will have strength in numbers and we will be able to arrive at the most effective solutions. If we truly want to make an impact, we need to start with breaking our own barriers.