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Learning to listen

Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

Once upon a time I was an aid worker, full of good intentions, and ‘fooled’ by good intentions. My Palestinian friends and colleagues have taught me that people need freedom, not aid. We need justice and education to flourish, not yet another NGO coming to ’empower communities’, and ‘make a difference’.

More often than not we are the ones in need, so we help others in order to help ourselves find meaning. Nothing bad about it, except the denial that often comes with it.

In this inspiring and refreshing TED talk, Ernesto Sirolli suggests that the first step is to listen to the people we’re trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit.

Bringing a mindful approach to aid work means acknowledging the fact that the age of charity may be over. It means realising that we need to bring awareness to our own blind spots, and our own needs before rushing in with ‘help’. Because changing the world starts from within, it doesn’t start with a logframe.

 

 

 

 

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Mindfulnext/Aid to Zen 2011-2017 Creative Commons License
Mindfulnext by Alessandra Pigni is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.