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When All Else Fails, You Can Walk Away Pt. 1

preventing corruption, issues in community development, advice on corruption, dealing with corruption, corruption in community development

Sometimes, you can cross every “t” and dot every “i.” You follow best practices, work with communities to solve a problem, and still run into corruption with no plausible solution. When all is said and done, if the situation can’t be resolved, you can and, at times, should walk away.

That may sound a bit cold-hearted, but over the years, we have found that sometimes, it’s the best solution. If there is a person/entity in a community forcing you into a compromising position ethically, Biblically or legally, it is often best to stop the work. As representatives of the King, we should have no participation in or association with wrong-doing of any kind. We desire to see fair and just development occur but we also must keep in mind that we are about a sacred task. Our actions and interactions speak volumes–good or bad–to the people around us.

I clearly recall an instance in which our community development work [1] had slowed to a crawl, as if the local group was waiting for something. They took no initiative and it was not appropriate for our team to jump in and undercut the process.

Soon enough, the motivation of the group became clear when they let us now they were waiting on “financial incentives” from our organization to start a project. It was a polite way of saying they wanted us to pay them a bribe – to grease the wheels so that the development process could move forward.

Our team met together and decided that we would thank the community for their time, have a small leave-taking party, and move on to another area to work. The community was a little shocked, but didn’t put up too much resistance. We left on fairly good terms with a promise to be available to them in the future if they wanted to re-engage in the development work started. We did make it clear that we would not dole out “favors” with anyone in the group or community.

We moved on to a neighboring area, implementing a four-year development process that accomplished some amazing things from animal projects, to a new water system, and even some education programs for the children.

The original community took note. They were close enough in proximity to see the good work that was being done and, before long, they approached us, wanting to resume the development process in their community.

Obviously, not every story where we walk away from a community turns out this well. However, I am not sorry for any of the places that we left/decided not to work due to the corruption restrictions.

How about you? Do you have any stories? Successful or not so successful? We would love to learn from you.