Community Development Worker

South East Asia / Community Development / 1-11 months / Job ID: 883

A number of NGOs are involved in development initiatives in cities and rural areas across this country, where there are many physical and social needs. Poverty, lack of education and inadequate medical services prevail.

There are opportunities for highly qualified community development workers to come alongside with professional training to support national initiatives in areas such as sanitation, agriculture and healthcare, education and income generation. Visas are very difficult to obtain for these jobs though, so the person should be flexible about doing other jobs or be willing to be under a business visa.

The qualified candidate must have a heart to learn and serve, the ability to relate across cultures and in difficult contexts, and a willingness to learn the local language and culture to a high level. Having appropriate training and experience in community development, s/he will be a team player with a commitment to community engagement and empowerment.

Realising you are the problem

Realising you are the problem:
A necessary, rewarding (somewhat embarrassing) process.

I work for a local Christian NGO that provides ongoing extended-family and foster care for Cambodian kids. One of our most helpful tools is the case management and record-keeping software package we’ve developed and nicknamed OSCaR. The initial concept for OSCaR was simple but ambitious: create a system that would facilitate strong case management and case-noting, reinforce those processes for our staff, and store client information naturally in an easy-to-use database for program revision and reporting. All this was to be done in English and Khmer.

Having worked on the original design of OSCaR, I had grown increasingly protective of it—not out of some misplaced sense of ego (at least, not entirely!), but out of a desire to make it as successful as possible. I wasn’t really aware, though, that I was holding too tightly onto the project and preventing others from contributing as much as they could. This was especially a problem for the newest member of our team.

Sokly came on board the OSCaR team at Children in Families (CIF) about a year ago as our Technical Liaison, that is, the person who was to help with our communications with our software development company.

Like all new employees, it took Sokly a little while to figure out her place with CIF—where she could fit, how she could contribute to the team. Once she did, however, she began making suggestions and recommendations. Like many people in Cambodia, though, she was held back by something that she had very little control over: the influential foreigner she had to share office space with. Yes, that would be me. She hadn’t really had a chance to prove herself, but with me hanging on to things so tightly, how could she?

Just recently, Sokly asked me directly to help her integrate more with our development team by advocating for her to spend more time with the developer. Culturally, as a woman speaking to a man, as a Khmer person speaking to a foreigner, as an employee speaking to a supervisor, that was incredibly challenging for her. Fortunately, I did what she asked, and she has started communicating with the software developers directly every week. She coordinates our team to work out our priorities for development, then gives that information to the developers.

That took a job away from me, which was a blessing since I was feeling pretty over-stretched with everything on my plate. I didn’t anticipate, however, how much our work process would improve as well. Our developer is now more efficient and new features are being completed more quickly and accurately. Even our software project manager is much clearer about their work priorities now that they have such a definite model to follow.

Everyone has been really nice about it, of course; no-one has said, “Wow Chris, things are going much better now that you’re not constantly managing every little element of this project”. My team are gracious people, not just competent ones!

Still, it was initially painful to realise that many of my stresses over the past six months were due not just to being busy but also to my unwillingness to trust people, and my insistence on doing tasks that I’m just not that good at. But I’m glad to now be working with someone who stepped outside her cultural norms to push me to do what needed to be done. Our team is stronger as a result. Our project is going stronger as a result. And I’m a whole lot less stressed!

It’s been a privilege to contribute here, but even better to see Sokly step up and make her own important contribution.

Chris and Stacie, long-term Interserve workers, advocate for family-based care for children. Their family lives in Cambodia.

God has a mission for people with a disability

“Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” 1 Cor 1:26–29

God uses the foolish things of this world to achieve and succeed where the powerful, wise and strong are ineffective. The ‘foolish’, ‘weak’, lowly and despised have an important role in mission in breaking the strongholds of pride and conceit, which are such a barrier to the gospel impacting people and nations. God loves to reveal his glory through those with disability (John 9). What an imagination God has, bringing in such an upside-down Kingdom!

Disability has a profound impact in mission because it demonstrates how our awesome, powerful God achieves His purpose through vulnerable and struggling bodies. Yet the mission movement has not always realised this—and the impact of missions is blunted and the Body of Christ incomplete when people with disability are excluded.

Thankfully some people with disability do slip through the onerous selection processes and serve in mission. Or, as is more often the case, an existing cross-cultural worker acquires a disability. Serving against significant odds, perhaps even from their home office, they come to realise that God doesn’t work despite their disabilities but, rather, chooses to work through them.

Disability removes an unhealthy power dynamic in the field. Whereas the big, powerful, educated and rich missionary is viewed as living in some sort of castle in the clouds, disability can tear those walls down and put us at the level of our neighbour who is struggling—the woman with debilitating pain, the man with a walking problem, the parents of a child with a learning disability. A friend working in Bangladesh explained that when people see his deformity they suddenly they see him as a real, down-to-earth person and they open up and share about their own circumstances. One woman saw that he had a similar disability to her son and removed her burqa headdress to have a closer look and engage with him and his family!

Disability also prompts people to ask questions about our worldview. I have been asked about my personal experience of disability: How did God let this happen to you? Have you tried [x,y,z] miracle cure? How can you leave your own country, where the services for disability are so great, and serve here? I take the opportunity to share about Jesus and His plan for humanity:
•We are created in the image of God.
•Our weakness reminds us of our dependence on God.
•Jesus loves us in spite of our failings.
•Jesus died for all sinners, disabled or not.
•God created us with a disability for His unique and sovereign purpose.

I would argue that a Christian worldview is totally revolutionary for disability in the countries in which we work. In my experience in South Asia, responding to disability and overcoming unhealthy karmic beliefs is near impossible without the transformation and alternative worldview that the Christian Gospel brings.

The challenge for the mission movement is to work to help those with disability to serve and remain serving in missions. Alternative models of mission may provide conducive environments for people with disability: working in a country that offers excellent health care, regularly traveling home for ongoing care, or serving remotely via communication technology. Disability is no barrier in God’s Kingdom.

Dr Nathan is a public health expert, working alongside development organisations and the South Asian church to empower those with disability.

Social Worker

Central Asia / Community Development / 1-11 months, 12-23 months / Job ID: 333

This organization runs social and educational services for the community, specifically helping women in crisis situations.

The social worker will assist in development of social programs, working with women in crisis situations and training local staff.

The ideal candidate should have relevant qualifications and experience in social work.

Social Worker

Central Asia / Community Development / 1-11 months, 12-23 months / Job ID: 925

A small NGO in a major city in Central Asia runs a prison ministry, a halfway house for women in crisis, and small business initiatives to help towards sustainability.

The applicant would assist with running the day-to-day activities of the halfway house for the women from prison and other crisis situations. This would involve practical help around the house, basic skills training, care for needs, and basic English classes.

Some experience in caring for people and social work skills are desirable.

Teacher for homeschooling

Central Asia / Community Development / 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1492

Several homeschooling families live and serve in this capital city. Although there are English international schools in our city, they are out of reach financially for most M-workers. Homeschooling takes up a significant proportion of a partner’s time, and limits how much they can engage in work outside the home.

We are looking for a teacher to provide help to home-schooled families. The children range from K to grade 8 (at time of posting). There could be 1:1 tutoring, or teaching small homeschool co-op groups in 1 or more subjects (depending on need and applicant skill set). You may be able to help multiple families during the week or to work with 1 larger family. All curriculum materials are provided and no prior formal teaching experience is necessary.

A suitable applicant would have a vision to support partners and other M workers in our city through assisting with the homeschool education of their kids. They would understand the unique lives of MKs growing up as TCKs, and have a desire to see them thrive while living on the field. They would see themselves as an English-speaking mentor and teacher who could significantly influence and encourage them in these formative years. A wide variety of applicants could be considered and specifics made to fit them.

Youth / Social Worker

Central Asia / Community Development / 1-11 months, 12-23 months / Job ID: 379

A community centre, set up in 2003, aims to provide a range of services to the community.

The job involves working closely with a local team, running courses in character development, stress management, and leadership training, as well as organizing recreational activities for the centre. Other responsibilities include helping to develop teaching materials on relevant topics.

The applicant should have relevant qualifications and several years’ experience in youth/social work. Fluency in English and some Mandarin is preferable.

Women’s Centre Volunteer

Arab World / Community Development / 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1506

Our work involves improving the lives of local women, including refugees and vulnerable nationals. We provide vocational skills such as hairdressing and literacy to create empowerment and self-sufficiency. We also offer counseling and lectures to equip beneficiaries with coping mechanisms to deal with stress and for the integration of refugees into the host community.

Our mission is to provide a safe community for women and children, equipping them through education, counseling and mutual support. We welcome volunteers who can pass on skills such as English teaching and handcrafts. Other classes offered by the centre include gardening, aerobics and soap-making.

We need empathic people with a servant heart. You need flexibility, a love for people, and a desire to share Christ in word and deed.

Development Specialist

South Asia / Community Development / 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1464

This is a development project situated in a rural area. It has a training school for midwives, nurses and community workers, a community development work, a research hub, an English-speaking school up to age 16, and a 150-bed hospital (with obstetric, gynaecology, surgical, medical and paediatric departments).

The Community Health and Development Program, and also its other departments, are involved in a large number (usually over ten at any one time) of internationally-funded development projects, mainly focused on the project’s core expertise in the area of mother and child health.

The project is seeking an experienced development professional with skills in project development, donor liaison, grant application writing, and project analysis, monitoring and evaluation.

Microfinance Support Worker

South East Asia / Community Development / 1-11 months / Job ID: 877

A young, vibrant NGO working in community development runs a microcredit project in 5 villages, a playgroup/kindergarten for village children, and after-school learning-support classes for children in 6 villages. Inter-village events are also organized. There is a good team atmosphere in this locally run organization with basic facilities.

The Microfinance Officer would help to set up training programs and administrative systems, and would join in thinking about strategy. The team is young and enthusiastic but lacks administrative and training skills.

They need someone with a passion to see the poor released from poverty and an understanding of the role that microcredit can play. Educational background in community development or finance would be helpful but not necessary. The right person must be flexible, able to adapt easily, and willing to help out with different jobs. S/he should be physically fit and able to travel to villages on the back of a motorbike.