Barefoot dentistry is teaching local village volunteers of impoverished regions of Nepal, how to perform simple dental procedures to perform exams and cleanings, do simple fillings, apply fluoride and sealants and offer home-care instruction? In turn, the trainees provide their neighbors with these basic oral health services. By instituting a training continuum, AGP hopes to establish a sustainable corps of oral health-care providers throughout underserved Nepal.
What is Grassroots Activism?
At its most basic level, grassroots activism is a group of people who feel strongly enough about an issue to actively campaign to make a difference. Grassroots activism relies on the basic rights to freedom of right action and expression by individuals when it comes to trying to make a change to a particular issue for the general good of the people. This type of activism is not controlled by any particular political party. They are an independent group of people who feel strongly about a certain issue and are willing to put in the effort to affect a change on the issue they are concerned about.
Who are Grassroots Activists?
Grassroots activists can be anyone from any walk of life who feels passionately about a cause. Activists can be a community that are opposed to a large retailer moving into their town. They can be a group of individuals that are opposed to animal testing or who want to change a council’s policies. Grassroots activism is politics at its most fundamental level; people coming together to stand up and make a difference. This could mean protesting outside the gates of a factory where an employee has been unfairly dismissed to leafleting a whole community on an issue that affects them.
How Grassroots Activism Works?
Once a grassroots campaign starts to pick up momentum it can be very effective when it comes to making a change. A successful campaign can start off with one or two activists that can soon turn into hundreds and even thousands. If the media picks up on the campaign, then this can make a real difference to the cause. If the cause has significant support it can effectively change government policies and laws. Recent protests have included marches against the war in Iraq to campaigns to stop knife crimes in London. These have been protests started by a small number of people that grew to huge numbers through the strength of feeling regarding the particular causes.
Making a Difference
Anyone who feels strongly about an issue can start their own grassroots campaign. The power of the Internet has made a real difference to the way campaigns are now run. Thanks to social networking sites it is now easier to recruit like-minded activists and organise protests and campaigns. This is grassroots activism at its most basic level but it can make a difference and change the public’s attitude towards certain issues.
Holding a political office is not always needed to make a difference to policies and issues. Many changes have been made in the world thanks to the results of grassroots activism. From civil rights activism to the campaigns for nuclear disarmament, grassroots activism will always be a way for the public to make a difference to the world in which we live.
Becoming involved in civil rights activism means taking an active part in fighting the abuse of civil rights. The civil rights movement has a long and distinguished history, and today, civil rights activism is still very much alive.
Why we, Around Good People, are a grassroots level activist?
As civil society actors we work in the 3 areas of welfare, development and advocacy related to the overall public health deliveries with focus on the oral health amongst the less privileged people of rural Nepal. We collaborate with the host communities to lay out a demand driven self-sustained public oral health projects in Nepal. Out works can be broadly categorized into:
- Mutual aid or self-help
- Philanthropy or service to others
- Civic participation, and
- Advocacy or campaigning.
The key features and principles underlying the archetypal works that we do as grassroots level activists working in the field of oral health care is as:
- A humanistic orientation – seeing development in human centered terms, a belief in the power of consciousness, and cultivation of the will as a necessary requirement for true social change. A recognition that social development involves the facilitation of inherent forces of life, not simply the implementation of material projects.
- A systems approach – seeing people, and the forms and institutions they create as all integrally connected, in relationship with one another, and thus affecting each other, so that relationship becomes the central element which characterizes the system.
- An organisational approach – humans are social beings and this is most expressed through the organisations and institutions we create. Irrespective of whether our specialisation and expertise is with organisations themselves (as in Organisation Development), almost all social initiatives are undertaken with the vehicle of “organisation”. Thus, social intervention requires an understanding of social organisation.
- A developmental approach – implying that the process of change is towards enlargement, rather than reduction. Seeing it as unpredictable and open-ended, a process requiring a dynamic and living, rather than instrumental or mechanical, response. This is a process that must be prepared for through gathering a surplus of inner resourcefulness, rather than one that can be definitively and exhaustively planned for in advance.
- A commitment to, and methodology for, approaching development from the inside out. Unless agents and agencies of development are actively and consciously engaged in their own internal developmental change processes, there is little chance that they can play any significant role in facilitating meaningful change in the relationships of which they are a part. In practical terms, this requires that intervention into “another” must begin with understanding of, and intervention into “self”. This is true for individual practitioners as well as for organisations and institutions.
We do believe that ‘YOU’ can also make an ‘impact’ in the community, by volunteering with us you are helping us in our dogged pursuit for capacity building: we are guided by the following commandments and invite you to stand by us in solidarity!
- Do your client no harm; you are there to help and heal.
- Start where the organisation is at; build on what they have begun.
- Understand the organisation as well as you possibly can.
- Diagnose carefully with the client before seeking solutions together.
- Get the opinion leaders and power people in the organisation committed to the process.
- Relieve the pain where possible.
- If something is not broken, don’t try to fix it.
- Have a big bag of tricks; tailor the intervention to the problem.
- Don’t do it for them; help the people who must make the changes to own the issues and the solutions.
- Stay alive; don’t get killed fighting for causes or fighting the client’s wars.