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Regard man as a mine

rich in gems of inestimable value

Together with its local partners, Unity Foundation adapted a specific framework of development which acts as a guide and influences the way social action is approached and carried out. At the heart of this framework lie beliefs about the nature of human beings. These beliefs are Bahá’í inspired and are universal in their nature:

Man is a mine rich in gems of limitless potential: Such a view of human beings does not permit to regard people as helpless victims nor as passive recipients of aid. Rather, development work based on such a view tries to tap into the vast pool of capacities of local people and to empower them to become the protagonists of their own development.

Coherence of material and moral dimensions of human beings: When development only defines material goals, e.g. the building of infrastructure, it is reduced to the mere consumption of goods and services.

Equality between men and women: In order for a community to develop, it is necessary that equality between men and women is achieved.

Our framework of development

1 Who are the protagonists of our projects?

Development is viewed as a process, the main protagonists of which are the people themselves, irrespective of the degree of material   prosperity achieved by their nations. Our projects safeguard the right of each people to be the protagonists of their own development.

2 What is the role of Unity Foundation?

We channel financial resources to support grass root organizations, without the least trace of paternalism and in a way that empowers communities in the recipient countries. We have the responsibility to exercise a degree of control and accountability to meet the expectancy of the donor and to respect the autonomy of the development organization.

3 We support grass-root projects. What is that?

Development activity emerges from within a community and belongs to the   people and institutions that are implementing the effort. Development is not seen as a “product” delivered from the “developed” to the “under-developed” countries. Often these projects are not managed at the grassroots, but by higher-level organizations that are far removed from the real work being carried out. Our projects follow a “bottom-up” approach rather than a “top-down” approach.

4 What is the main purpose of the projects we support?

In an ideal project, while action is directed towards visible improvement of some aspect of life, success is measured by the impact these actions have on the capacity of the community to address development issues at increasingly higher levels of complexity and effectiveness. The main concern of the projects is to develop peoples’ capacity to make decisions about their development and then to implement them.

5 What are our criteria for selecting the local partner organizations?

All of our local partner agencies emerged in an organic fashion starting as grass root initiatives and developing institutional capacity over time:

  • they started as local grass root initiatives: a few individuals carrying out fairly simple development activities
  • through action-reflection these activities evolved and gradually grew in size and complexity and became sustained development projects
  • a NGO emerges in order to operate at a much higher level of complexity, carrying out several lines of action and influencing a wider segment of society.
  • Unity Foundation only supports local NGO who have reached the last of these three stages of development and which have a proven capacity to utilize funds effectively and the ability to interact well with outside donors.

6 What fundamental principles govern our relationship with our local partners?

  • The responsibility of implementing the development project rests solely with the local organization.
  • UF assumes the role of a representative of the local organization, acting as its advocate before donors.
  • UF provides assistance without the least trace of paternalism.
  • UF would not offer technical assistance or other advisory input unless specifically requested by the local organization.
  • The provision of money is in no way conditional on technical assistance. This autonomy is central to the sustainable growth of the development organization.

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