Whether or not to fight tradition

Storiesfromthefield

It is with a strong belief in the power of storytelling that we present ‘Stories from the Field’: a monthly series dedicated to capturing anecdotes from individuals working in community development internationally. If you know of anyone whose community experiences left you laughing, confused, upset or curious – we would love to hear about them! Just send a 2-3 paragraph anecdote that captures the story and the lesson learned (if any!) to kcwilliams@recrear.info Thank you!

At the beginning of my career, I was in a remote part of Papua New Guinea treating a villager alongside a traditional local practitioner. Even though the local leader practiced his own methods of healing while I followed my conventional methods, we were not threatened by each other. Ultimately, we shared a common objective to care for the well-being of the patients.

When you are doing development, it is important to recognize the importance of traditional local leaders, like traditional health practitioners in my field. Even in modern maternal and child health programs, traditional healers continue to have connections with local villagers. In development there is bound to be a blend of cultures and an encounter of different practices. What is important is knowing which battles to fight and recognizing that different cultures bring different benefits and don’t need to necessarily contradict one another.

– Peggy Thorpe, Senior Health Specialist (CIDA)

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