Adapting projects and respecting cultures: the importance of local partnerships

When looking to establish successful global health initiatives, good intentions are a good start. In reality, even the best intentions, the most effective project management, or the most comprehensive budget can only take a project so far – especially if culturally significant factors aren’t taken into account. Ahimsa Fund recognizes that a project’s success is linked to its environment: what works in Manila won’t necessarily work in Kathmandu, and vice-versa. We understand the importance of adapting each of our programmes to local cultures and populations – work we’d be unable to do without our expert local partners. In a nutshell: we train, they explain.

Our local partners help ensure access to healthcare

Here at Ahimsa Fund, we believe that all knowledge has a double purpose: to be put into practice, and to be passed on to others. This belief has shaped the way we approach our relationship with our local partners: we share what we hope to achieve with our projects, while they use their community knowledge to help us refine and adapt our strategy.

Intimacy and cultural sensitivity: a key example

During the implementation of our cervical cancer screening project, several issues surrounding cultural norms and sensitivities were raised. This medical practice is viewed as extremely intimate in many – but not all – communities: a women in Bangladesh is unlikely to react to it in the same way as a woman in Burundi. In some countries where religion is an important part of cultural life, a female patient can only be treated by a female doctor. These traditions and cultural practices must be respected if an initiative is to be a success: imposing potentially sensitive medical exams upon certain communities could have disastrous consequences, even leading to wholesale rejection of a given initiative. As a result, our local partners guide us every step of the way, informing us about local customs and traditions and accompanying us while on the ground.

“The diverse world we live in requires of us social, moral and spiritual understanding,
if we hope to establish tolerance, open-mindedness, and mutual respect.”

Guy Parent

Ahimsa Fund and our local partners: together, we’re stronger

In exchange for their valued expertise and trusted guidance, we, at Ahimsa Fund, offer our partners the chance to widen their horizons while empowering local populations, by participating in international exchanges, programs and internships, as well as hosting and training with experts from around the globe.

Relationships, both professional and personal, are created, networks expanded, skills and best practices exchanged… Where international cooperation and global development meet, the foundations of sustainable projects are laid.

local partners

Training our local partners
When developing our cervical cancer screening initiative in Burundi, Ahimsa Fund committed to training a series of local medical teams, ultimately bringing them to France to teach them more about key technical issues linked to the project. We also commissioned an expert team of French and Canadian nurses, doctors and healthcare workers, so our partners in Burundi would have the support they needed.

“When two cultures meet, not in a clash but getting together shoulder to shoulder,
a revolution can happen.”

Sister Emmanuelle

Culture is the telescope through which we see the world. It shapes the way we view society and the people around us, creating diversity even as it offers us ways to overcome our differences. Coming face-to-face with the “other” is to see the reflection of ourselves.

At Ahimsa Fund, we try to keep this always in mind when developing our initiatives. A project’s success is unique to, and influenced by, its environment. Transposing a carbon copy of this initiative or that programme to another region or population is to doom it to failure. That’s why we adapt, adjust and alter our projects to fit their individual context – with the help of our valued partners, who, along with our ambassadors, are the key to our network’s continued success.