We love to watch movies or read comic books where Batman, Superman, or Spiderman fight crime and make the world a better place, one epic battle at a time. As much as these heroes seem to do good, however, getting to the root of the real problem facing our society takes another kind of superhero: the community development superhero.
Choosing an alter-ego that makes a real difference
Sure, studying community development won’t give you any supernatural superpowers to fight crime with, but at the end of the day, that’s not the kind of hero that really makes a difference. With the knowledge and training you use on a daily basis as a community development professional (whether as an AIDS worker, social worker, or community project manager), you are going to do be doing more good than any of those comic book heroes can ever dream of!
Working in community development means making real and lasting differences in peoples’ lives and in society as a whole. Nelson Mandela provides a great example of how a normal person could do more good than any superhero ever could. And Mr Mandela’s achievements were not significant because he was president of the country, but rather because he lived – as any community development professional should – by the following words:
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead” – Nelson Mandela
Fighting for a better South Africa
Community development has an important role to play in South African society. Even though South Africa is one of the African continent’s economic leaders, we have a number of serious social issues.
The National Planning Committee, which was established in 2009 to develop the landmark National Development Plan, has identified the following 9 problems facing South African society:
- Infrastructure that is either crumbling or is displaced.
- A resource-intensive economy, from which we are not extracting value.
- Special divides that continue to exist in the history and context of Apartheid.
- Poor education outcomes.
- High disease burden.
- Poor public service.
- Corruption in all spheres.
- Communities that continue to be divided.
These are real issues facing South African society – not the Joker, or Loki, or Lex Luthor – but real issues, needing real heroes. Community development professionals can have a direct impact on many of these.
What will your superpowers be as a community worker?
There are a number of amazing community development and HIV/AIDS management courses you can study to start a career in community development. The skills and knowledge you gain through your studies will become your weapons against the threats facing our society.
Here are some of the things you can learn about in a community development course:
- Community Development Values
- Community Health and Disease Management
- Understanding Poverty in Communities
- Supporting the Vulnerable in Communities
- Sociology and the Community
Here are some of the things you will learn about in an HIV/AIDS management course:
- Community Development
- Health and Nutrition Education
- Population, Poverty and Human Development
- Social and Corporate Responsibilities
- Counselling and Social Work
- Responding to HIV/AIDS
Choose a career in community development, and do your part in making the world a better place. You might not be the type of superhero you dreamt of being as a child, but you will be the kind of superhero that this country needs!
Want to study an introductory course in community development?
Note: This post was originally published on 20 February 2015 by Adriaan Odendaal and updated by Dale Hes.