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Transforming Nations through Building Self-Reliant Communities

“It's important to learn where values are rooted. We need to work in a context bigger than the individual,” said Dr. Michael Lenaghan, Professor and Chair of Teaching Excellence at Miami Dade College in the United States and a panel moderator at the 2014 Global Peace Convention in Asuncion, Paraguay on November 19, 2014.

Communitites like Talcoban, Philippines showed how resiliant communities can respond
to natural disasters like Hurricain Yolanda and see them as opportunitities to
rebuild stronger and better.

The panel, National Transformation through Self-Reliance and Community Resilience, drew experts and field representatives who affirmed the potential and value of each individual and each community in locating and deploying the resources for development and prosperity.

Session panelists discussed how, by addressing problems holistically and maximizing the value from local resources—human, natural, and financial—a community can become self-reliant. A local self-reliant community is self-governing and capable of identifying and developing the resources necessary for its prosperity.

Former Uruguayan Senator Ruperto Long said it is essential to “motivate people and give knowledge, and develop basic requirements to enter the market and manage assets.” He added that rather than focusing on small capital to keep projects alive, there needs to be less dependency on these funds and exploration of other ways to motivate the community.

Panelist Victor Almonte Diaz, a specialist in community development and international cooperation for the World Bank and International Development Bank Youth, agreed, adding that “success is not defined by money. Quality aspects are difficult to measure, but not impossible.” He emphasized the need for capacity development for future generations to overcome and transform development problems.

Panelist Victor Almonte Diaz, a specialist in community development and international cooperation for the World Bank and International Development Bank Youth, agreed, adding that “success is not defined by money. Quality aspects are difficult to measure, but not impossible.”

(left to right) Session moderator, Dr. Michael Lenaghan Chair of Teaching Excellence; Professor, Miami Dade College, United States, Mr. Victor Almonte Specialist in Community Development and International Cooperation, Mr. Joan Mateo Director, Service For Peace, Dominican Republic, Dr. Waldo Brea President, Partners of the Americas, Dominican Republic, Mr. Alejandro Bravo Executive Director, Nicaraguan Association of Municipalities, Hon. Ruperto Long Minister, Court of Auditors; Former Senator of Uruguay.
 

Values were a common topic in the discussion. Mr. Joan Alberto Mateo Sánchez, Director for Service for Peace in the Dominican Republic, said that even though a particular community was analyzed many times, some people were just not interested. There is a need to “find those who can act,” he said.

While there may be great ideas and innovative projects from certain individuals in leadership positions, Panelist Alejandro Bravo, Executive Director of Nicaraguan Association of Municipalities, said that the “participation of citizens are important. We need the confirmation from the community.”

The six panelists, including the Former Dominican Republic President Hipolito Mejia, also addressed the importance of a community’s own capacity to identify and address development and national transformation priorities through community-based development (CBD), which operates on the principles of local empowerment, participatory governance, greater downward accountability, and enhanced local capacity.

Mr. Waldo Brea, President of Partners of the Americas in the Dominican Republic, said that because there is still no ideal model of national transformation, there is a great need to create a new culture from “above” and “below,” while emphasizing the importance of universal values.

In this era of change, it is necessary to revolutionize how people look at a crisis, he said. Crisis should be seen as an opportunity to build justice and peace. Such a perspective fosters resilience, and enables communities to overcome disaster.

“No matter how small we are, we can rise again,” Mr. Brea said. Quoting Paulo Freire, a renowned Brazilian educator and philosopher, he concluded, “You cannot teach love. The only way to teach love is by loving. Love is the ultimate transformation.”

The Global Peace Convention, Roadmap for National Transformation: Liberty, Prosperity and Integrity through Moral and Innovative Leadership, concludes with a Global Peace Awards ceremony on November 21.