NGOs should use more people of faith

people of faith

One of the region’s most experienced Pacific journalists suggests that countries such as Australia and New Zealand should use more people of faith in their development programmes.

Bruce Hill has for many years reported for RNZ and ABC on Pacific issues. He says current secularism in the more developed nations is not exactly looked on with favour by many in the islands.

Christianity, he says, is often seen as a foundation of national identity in most parts of the region, and anything that might weaken it tends to be regarded as a threat.

“Sometimes we in developed nations fail to grasp that not everything we do, no matter how well-intentioned, is entirely welcomed in developing countries.”

Hill suggests that NGOs should consider using people of faith when they are delivering their development programmes.

People of faith, he says “Can speak the language of religion and understand the concerns of people.

“And rightly or not, they seem to feel vulnerable about what is sometimes seen as an irreligious Western cultural tide bent on sweeping everything before it.”

Hill tells a story about an NGO worker he once met on a flight to a Pacific Island nation.

She was going to facilitate a symposium on gender issues, focusing on boosting the number of women in that country’s parliament.

“It turned out that one of her reasons for joining this particular NGO and taking an interest in the Pacific was a sense of needing to make up for her grandmother’s work many years earlier.

Her grandmother had been (and here her voice dropped to a whisper) “a missionary in the islands.”

“I can still see that NGO worker striding through the airport, off to bring the light to those sitting in darkness, with supreme self-confidence in the correctness of her cause,” says Hill.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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