We often speak of our experiential programme that simulate issues such as the complexity of poverty. Read these words from a participant this year:
“Seventy of us enter a large room. We sit on a concrete floor, empty aside from rusty corrugated iron wall paneling and a few makeshift shops…The next hour is a haze of noise, rejection, begging, and work that fails to meet the minimum targets. We start with intent and vigour but the desperation grows each moment. We start to offer our possessions and confront our own values and integrity in the quest for survival. And I feel like I’m in a washing machine struggling for breath. I cannot think of tomorrow when today looks hopeless and urgent. I’ll work all day. All night. But the challenge to survive is overwhelming. And this is day one.”
The person writing that was part of NGO, Global Development Group. This participant, as the others, already knew poverty well. GDG is an association that brings together people dedicated to alleviating suffering. Even so, the simulation proved powerful. We often hear practitioners say that, while they work amid poverty, the simulation of it still brings the reality home in new ways.
GDG held its International Development Partner Conference in Hong Kong this year and chose to include our Struggle for Survival simulation. Its participants, largely from developing nations, found it a time of perspective-shift, and reaffirmation of their organisations’ goals.