With one little seed, huge things can grow. In the industry of community development, there are many stories where small groups with big ideas (and compassion) have created multi-million dollar companies delivering aid and assistance across the globe. Here are some of most recognisable and influential stories of backyard operations that have changed the lives of millions.
World Vision International
When this community development model was founded in 1950, it was the work of one man in Robert Pierce to aid missionaries in carrying out their work. Today, World Vision International is active in more than 90 countries and attracts donations of money and products in excess of $US2.79 billion each year.
The journey began back in 1947, when American missionary Dr Pierce travelled through China and Korea, seeing first-hand people living without basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter or medicine. His work began by setting up orphanages in these countries, but he had the fire within him to take it further. So, he sent a call to arms to America to help assist in funding, and the response was so great that World Vision was born.
Today, community development remains the core of WVI’s operations, World Vision Australia chief executive Claire Rogers explains. “World Vision operates a long-term community development model, which means we work closely with local communities to help them identify their areas of highest need and design a long term program to address these in a sustainable way,” she says. “These are the programs that are funded through child sponsorship, that ensure that children have access to healthcare, clean water and education.” And it all began with one man who saw a need and delivered compassion in the mid-1900s.
This community development corporation was founded by just a husband and wife team back in 1970 in Washington. Since then, it has tipped more than $US1 billion into more than 35 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
American doctor William Kirker and his wife Barbara (a registered nurse) began the operation in Niger where drought was ravaging the land and causing widespread suffering. The couple worked with Niger president Hamani Diori to set up aid operations, but it became apparent they needed assistance. Director of the Peace Corps Office of Returned Volunteers in Washington C. Payne Lucas, and former Peace Corps director in Sierra Leone Joseph C. Kennedy, were recruited to help.
The new charter was built on community development operations, bridging the gap between America and Africa, and delivering the needs of the people by working directly with them. “From the beginning, Africare was always there to work with the people and not to superimpose a plan for them. That kind of involvement both serves and empowers,” National President National Council of Negro Women Dr Dorothy Height said in 1996.
One of Australia’s oldest and largest community development organisations started its life in Sydney back in 1862. Benjamin Short opened the Sydney City Mission in a bid to help the city’s homeless and vulnerable. This was followed by the Adelaide City Mission in 1867. These operations continued until the mid-1900s, when it was determined that better long-term solutions needed to be created to stop the cycle of poverty. This led to nine Australian missions coming together in 1997, uniting to become Mission Australia. Today, the organisations charter is to work with communities to deliver outcomes. “Mission Australia works in partnership with communities in Australian cities, towns and remote locations to find sustainable solutions to local issues,” Mission Australia policy states.
You would have seen their bottles of water in supermarket aisles, the Thankyou bottles sitting amongst the other big brands. It started in 2008 as a small idea by Daniel Flynn, Justine Flynn and Jarryd Burns. Approach a factory willing to provide them services with no upfront costs to produce bottled water and raise money for parts of the world where people have no access to clean water.
It was an enormous success, and Thankyou has now expanded into body care and food products to help raise funds to improve hygiene, sanitation and food security measures for impoverished areas of the world as well. By 2016, Thankyou had raised $3.7 million for these collective projects, giving over 190,000 people access to water and 300,000 access to hygiene and sanitation.
How you can get involved in community development
If you’ve got a burning passion for helping others, and for social change, then why not make it your life’s work? Studying community development is the perfect first step to getting your rewarding career underway. You don’t have to drop everything make a start – through Open Universities Australia (OUA), you can study online, from wherever you are, at whichever pace suits your lifestyle.
OUA partners with Australia’s leading universities, to bring you over 150 degrees online, right at your fingertips. Explore Murdoch University’s Arts degrees that you can study through us:
- Bachelor of Arts (Community Development)
- Bachelor of Arts (Sustainable Development)
- Bachelor of Arts (International Aid and Development)
Simply fill in the form below to express your interest in an Arts degree from Murdoch University, or explore the wide range of degrees on our website. Alternatively, you can call a friendly Student Advisor on 13 OPEN for a recommendation that’s tailored to you.