Following on my review of Robert Chambers’ new(ish) book, ‘Provocations for Development’, I’m posting a couple of edited-down excerpts that caught my eye. Today, immersions – written in 2007 and a nice illustration of how Robert combines both the politics and practicalities of aid work.
Immersions can take many forms, but an almost universal feature is staying in a poor community, as a person, living with a host family, helping with tasks and sharing in their life. The overnight stay is vital for relationships, experience, and relaxed conversations after dark and talking into the night. There may be activities like working with and helping the family, listening and dialogue, learning a life history, keeping a reflective diary or trying to explain your work and its relevance, but the essence is to be open much of the time to the unplanned and unexpected, to live and be and relate as a person. The unplanned incident is so often the most striking, moving and significant. Much is experienced and learnt, but what that will be is hard to predict.